Is it professional wisdom or the conventional kind that says if you fear you are crazy, permanent madness, then you’re not?  

Emily Dickinson’s poem, “The first Day’s Night had come — ”, is a mood poem, full of dreamy and romantic courage. The poem wrestles with the possibility, the fear, of going crazy; the question it prompts for me is, “Have I gone crazy enough?”  

The poem digs into to my wish to be with someone with whom I have shared experiences. Though he is out of my life, I can only feel intense longing to talk with him about old times. This poem has me thinking about things in our past that no one else shares with me. 

The first Day’s Night had come — 

And grateful that a thing

So terrible — had been endured — 

I told my Soul to sing — 

She said her strings were snapt — 

Her Bow —  to atoms blown — 

And so to mend her — gave me work

Until another Morn — 

And then — a Day as huge

As Yesterdays in pairs,

Unrolled its horror in my face — 

Until it blocked my eyes — 

My Brain — begun to laugh — 

I mumbled — like a fool — 

And tho’ ’tis Years ago — that Day — 

My Brain keeps giggling — still.

And Something’s odd — within — 

That person that I was — 

And this One — do not feel the same — 

Could it be Madness — this?

The reason I question my insanity is not that I haven’t endured “first Day’s Night/…so terrible…/”The strings to my Soul had snapped.

The “bow” to my “life-boat” was blown to atom-size pieces. For months, “to mend her — gave me work”. There has been more than one day that felt like it contained the burden of two: “As Yesterdays in pairs,”.

The first time I laughed, it seemed that blindness toward my broken heart had overtaken me. It was the beginning of that “Something’s odd — within —” sensation, when two contradictory behaviors, tears and laughter, demand coexistence.

But, the real reason I now want to stay home all day and express my affection, if not to the person I miss, then to little belongings we shared, is “this One”: I do feel the same.

I’ve not even begun the fear: “Could it be Madness — this?”


Digest A Poem A Day — Accept What Comes Your Way