Quick to qualify the meditation on love as what we “can show Below”, thereafter, the poem holds nothing back. Except, of course, what the limits of language impose.

The Love a Life can show Below
Is but a filament, I know,
Of that diviner thing
That faints opon the face of Noon –
And smites the Tinder in the Sun –
And hinders Gabriel’s Wing –

‘Tis this – in Music – hints and sways –
And far abroad on summer days –
Distills uncertain pain –
‘Tis this enamors in the East –
And tints the Transit in the West
With harrowing Iodine –

‘Tis this – invites – appalls – endows –
Flits – glimmers – proves – dissolves –
Returns – suggests – convicts – enchants
Then – flings in Paradise 

I am among those whose family was uncomfortable expressing love outwardly. Even fearing that “too much attention” would spoil a child’s character, my parent’s philosophies were rooted in a combination of third or fourth generation puritanism, a smattering of neglect and too much loss of their own at early ages.

My father was quiet in the extreme, deprived of more than an eight grade education, buoyed by an innate optimism, but terrified of anything unfamiliar. My mother had more than he of life’s comforts when she was young, including slightly more than a high school diploma, but early traumas, combined with her obsessive need to be needed, included real fear and resentment of me for growing up. 

This poem is a love tutorial. Reading it over several times, I find myself adding words like elusive, capricious and incomplete, but also certain, protective, enticing, sweet and persistent.  

The poem’s descriptions of love, “in Music – hints and sways – ” and recall for me how I started to discover love’s delicious and therapeutic qualities in romance and in my children when I was a young adult. I found a totally new dimension of love when I discovered this and the other poems by Emily Dickinson.

I became unwilling to lose some of them for any time at all, so I committed them to memory. I wholeheartedly recommend this practice, for “’Tis this – invites – appalls – endows – / Flits – glimmers – proves – dissolves – / Returns – suggests – convicts – enchants / Then – flings in Paradise – ”.

 

Digest A Poem A Day — Accept What Comes Your Way

 

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