Ah! Love. What lengths I’ve gone to give it, get it, avoid it, protect it and squander it. Because of some kind of inborn impulse, to analyze it, inspect it, speechify it and so on. Emily Dickinson’s “You love me — you are sure —” is an attempt to remain rational about it.

You love me – you are sure –
I shall not fear mistake –
I shall not cheated wake –
Some grinning morn –
To find the Sunrise left –
And Orchards – unbereft –
And Dollie – gone!

I need not start – you’re sure –
That night will never be –
When frightened – home to Thee I run –
To find the windows dark –
And no more Dollie – mark –
Quite none?

Be sure you’re sure – you know –
I’ll bear it better now –
If you’ll just tell me so –
Than when – a little dull Balm grown –
Over this pain of mine –
You sting – again!

The unwritten but understood, “I love you” receives no ideal response, “I love you, too.” But, instead, it picks a fight; “ — you are sure —”? Doubt and suspicion set the tone throughout.  And, resentment, though suppressed. But, is there love?

Now, think about what it means to face every day with me. I wonder if you can be sure that “I shall not fear mistake — / I shall not cheated wake — / Some grinning morn —”. Good grief! Cut the irony before it bites.

Waking with a grin on my face, one “grinning morn”, to find that love has gone stirs up a series of bad images. The only thing the suspicious lover imagines untouched by grief, the trees, “And Orchards — unbereft —”

I won’t puzzle over the identity of “Dollie.” There seems little doubt the nickname is authored by the poet for her sister-in-law, Susan. The poem’s power is in its metaphor for love.

The vulnerability required to trust someone with my tenderest feelings is echoed in the childlike, “When frightened — home to Thee I run —” where I expect to be protected from harm, not find the source of harm. “To find the windows dark —”.

The poem tells me that the time to expose my doubts and fear of betrayal is at the beginning of, or renewal, of a relationship: “I’ll bear it better now — If you’ll just tell me so —”.

“Because it’s not as if I don’t need you. I do.

“In part, ‘Over this pain of mine —’, I’m willing to let your love provide a balm. But, if I let that happen, ‘…when — a little dull Balm grown — / You sting — again!’ 

“Well, I’ll just stop there. I don’t want to imagine more.”

Digest A Poem A Day – Accept What Comes Your Way

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