I have been known to get so wrapped up in my own ideas I felt I had to defend them with my life? 

Emily Dickinson’s poem, “The Color of the Grave is Green —” gives drama to real death as an active symbol of emotional deadness. We could be talking about depression, but not necessarily.

The Color of the Grave is Green —

The Outer Grave — I mean —

You would not know it from the Field — 

Except it own a Stone — 


To help the fond — to find it — 

Too infinite asleep

To stop and tell them where it is — 

But just a Daisy — deep — 


The Color of the Grave is white — 

The outer Grave — I mean — 

You would not know it from the Drifts — 

In Winter — till the Sun — 


Has furrowed out the Aisles — 

Then — higher than the Land

The little Dwelling Houses rise

Where Each — has left a friend — 


The Color of the Grave within — 

The Duplicate — I mean — 

Not all the snows c’d make it white — 

Not all the Summers — Green — 


You’ve seen the Color — maybe — 

Opon a Bonnet bound — 

When that you met it with before — 

The Ferret — Cannot find —

Clearly, there is beauty in death as seen through the eyes of the poet. It is “covered in white drifts,” “green,” invisible from the field except for its stone.  It beckons toward restful, infinite sleep and is only as deep as the daisy that grows on it. 

By contrast, “The Color of the Grave within — ” has no such redeeming qualities. “Not all the snows c’d make it white — /Not all the Summers — Green — ”. It is ugly.

When I am self-absorbed, caught up in narrow thinking, intolerant, or bigoted, I am inflexible and destructive of the give and take necessary for understanding someone different from me. 

The word “ferret” from the poem’s concluding line derives its impact from its Latin origin: “little thief.” The animal is descended from the European polecat. Though it is persistent, “The Ferret — Cannot find —” love, acceptance or reason in “..a Bonnet bound — ” and determined to protect my opinions at the expense of genuine communication.


Digest A Poem A Day — Accept What Comes Your Way