In Emily Dickinson’s, “If those I loved were lost” I feel invited to think about the quality of time I can create for myself, and between myself and loved ones.  A deeper understanding of psychological areas that we are connected by through the experience of pain, suffering and rejection, may be brought on by holidays, births, deaths or any circumstance out of the ordinary.

If those I loved were lost
The Crier’s voice would tell me –
If those I loved were found
The bells of Ghent w’d ring –
Did those I loved repose
The Daisy would impel me.
Philip – when bewildered
Bore his riddle in!

This poem speaks to the deepening understanding of these interrelations. Family get-togethers inevitably bring out both likenesses and differences. If I feel lost due to expectations that don’t pan out, I am tempted to imagine, rightly or wrongly, the relationship I wanted is just not there. And, indeed, what I wanted may not. The poem compares the village crier to the cry within, “If those I loved were lost/The Crier’s voice would tell me – ”.

Dickinson connects with my fascination for new or exotic travel in the poem by creating an imaginary trip to see “the bells of Ghent,” which were completed in 1338 as part of a tower in Flanders, Belgium (then part of England). Their customary purpose for generations of medieval families was to provide warning of danger, and were rung daily to reassure townspeople that all was well. Very rarely were they rung to announce some good fortune such as, “If those I loved were found”.  In so doing, the poem makes a celebration louder than any shouting to indicate the rarity of so magnificent an event as to find a love that is lost. In the heart or by death.

“Did those I loved repose/The Daisy would impel me.” If someone deare to me has died, life would impel, demand, that I talk to other people who are interested in this theme. Holidays and other times full of emotion are well suited to penetrating the complicated connections and dependencies between human behavior, the psyche and early injuries – to differentiate between cause and effect.

One of two architects who designed the tower and bells of Ghent, whose first name was Philip, may be referenced in the poem as one who threaded his own mysteries into “The ‘secret’, or treasury room, (which) was protected by two large doors, each with three locks. The keys of these locks were in the hands of the different guilds of Ghent. Therefore, the ‘secret’ could only be opened in the presence of the main representatives of these powerful leaders of the economic life of the city.” ( Philip – when bewildered/Bore his riddle in!” Families and other loving relationships may become complicated. What would we do without poetry to express our feelings about them?

Digest A Poem A Day – Accept What Comes Your Way