Rapidly changing moods are apt to interfere with a clear perception of my goals, especially when I am obligated without much regard for personal needs. This is less true nowadays, but I am reminded by Emily Dickinson’s poem, “I learned — at least — what Home could be — ” how memories can crowd concentration.

I learned — at least — what Home could be — 

How ignorant I had been

Of pretty ways of Covenant — 

How awkward at the Hymn


round our new Fireside — but for this — 

This pattern — of the way — 

Whose Memory drowns me, like the Dip

Of a Celestial Sea — 


What Mornings in our Garden — guessed — 

What Bees — for us — to hum — 

With only Birds to interrupt 

The Ripple of our Theme — 


And Task for Both — When Play be done — 

Your Problem — of the Brain — 

And mine — some foolisher effect — 

A Ruffle — or a Tune — 


The Afternoons — together spent — 

And Twilight — in the Lanes — 

Some ministry to poorer lives — 

Seen poorest — thro’ our gains — 


And then away to You to pass — 

A new — diviner — Care — 

Till Sunrise take us back to Scene — 

Transmuted — Vivider — 


This seems a Home — And Home is not — 

But what that Place could be — 

Afflicts me — as a Setting Sun — 

Where Dawn — knows how to be — 

It’s very disruptive when thoughts and desire for unfinished relationships make us feel dissatisfied with progress in necessary realms at work or elsewhere.

When “Memory drowns me, like the Dip/Of a Celestial Sea — ” all I can do sometimes is give in to thoughts of “Mornings in our Garden — ” of shared experience. 

I recall when no matter how much I accomplished, there was always “The Afternoons — together spent — ” that were lacking.

The fourth stanza compares the more positve side of a beloved’s former influence with my own, the consciousness of which results in tensions playing in everyday life.

The final two stanzas seem to play with the goal of wholeness and whether it can be more than an imaginary condition.

Though this poem doesn’t deal with a latter stage of grief, when activities are satisfying, its intense concentration on what has been gained and now lost, suggests movement within without despair.


Digest A Poem A Day — Accept What Comes Your Way