I like to read about people who have not only overcome difficult beginnings, but who have used childhood traumas and been transformed by them. “Charlie Chaplin loved scenes where a beautiful young mother is torn away from her terrified, weeping child.

“It was about his life”… more», says www.aldaily.com. Psychic pain, mastered, gives language real power in Emily Dickinson’s “An awful Tempest mashed the air — ”.  Like the snowplows that rendered this past weekend’s New England snowstorm mostly a manageable inconvenience to drivers, the poem turns chaos into paradise. 

An awful Tempest mashed the air –
The clouds were gaunt, and few –
A Black – as of a spectre’s cloak
Hid Heaven and Earth from view –

The creatures chuckled on the Roofs –
And whistled in the air –
And shook their fists –
And gnashed their teeth –
And swung their frenzied hair –

The morning lit – the Birds arose –
The Monster’s faded eyes
Turned slowly to his native coast –
And peace – was Paradise!

If there is a hyperbolic conclusion, its starting place that “Hid Heaven and Earth from view — ” is where a sexually molested child learns the sensation of “A Black — as of a spectre’s cloak”.  This survivor wants to dig into the poem’s mastery of such an improbable passage out of darkness.  

To be inspired and entertained by language that also tells “out loud” my inarticulate childhood feelings is to be able to smile with the gentlest reminder that like “The creatures chuckled on the Roofs — ” the sound of gaiety may be anything but. There is a sly satisfaction in my response to “And shook their fists — / And gnashed their teeth — / And swung their frenzied hair — ”. Especially the part about defiant “frenzied hair.”

It took a lot of therapy, many poems and more life before I understood why I was unable for so long to wake with “the morning lit — ” by truth. My “Monster’s faded eyes” did not recede until I stopped clinging to it, a process that indeed “Turned slowly to his native coast — ”.

Digest A Poem A Day — Accept What Comes Your Way

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