I like to think if I had read “The Outer — from the Inner”, by Emily Dickinson, when I was a teenager, or when my children were, I might have viewed behaviors differently.

Or, at least have had language for what the poem regards as “flinging dust.” This poem so neutralizes blame in any form. It places me in a frame of mind to seek a greater understanding of the aspects of myself and others that are connected to experiences of pain and suffering. 

The Outer – from the Inner
Derives its magnitude –
‘Tis Duke, or Dwarf, according
As is the central mood –

The fine – unvarying Axis
That regulates the Wheel –
Though Spokes – spin – more conspicuous
And flings a dust – while

The Inner – paints the Outer –
The Brush without the Hand –
Its Picture publishes – precise –
As is the inner Brand –

On fine – Arterial Canvas –
A Cheek – perchance a Brow –
The Star’s whole secret – in the Lake –
Eyes were not meant to know.

“.. The central mood” of this tutorial on the origin of greatness and failure (“’Tis Duke, or Dwarf”) in human efforts, is equanimity. 

I’m intrigued by the play with precision, “The fine — unvarying Axis”, as a thing equally applicable to some inner truth “That regulates the Wheel” as it is to “more conspicuous” erratic behaviors. There are so many interrelations between human behavior, the psyche, and early injuries. These may seem to toss me and loved ones around as if “a dust”.  If adopting the composure that the poem seems to want to breathe into me, inklings of how to carry out plans, or even healing, might occur to me.

The poem keeps a steady gaze on the complicated connections and interdependencies of my life and its relationships; “The Inner — paints the Outer —”.

Do I look to others for success in my ambitions, or fulfillment of my hopes and expectations? If I am unable to distinguish between cause and effect — yes. The result, (“Its Picture publishes — precise — ”), though, will continue to be a matter of my success or failure to arrive at a deeper understanding of a condition as unchangeable as a “Brand —”.

True beauty, “On fine — Arterial Canvas — / A Cheek — perchance a Brow — ”, is a function of  a “secret — in the Lake — ”, buried beneath the surface.

Digest A Poem A Day —   Accept What Comes Your Way