Emily Dickinson’s “Nobody knows this little Rose – ” works to remove distinctions between my mental and emotional responses; to merge feeling and intellect in an act of appreciation.

Nobody knows this little Rose –
It might a pilgrim be
Did I not take it from the ways
And lift it up to thee.
Only a Bee will miss it –
Only a Butterfly,
Hastening from far journey –
On its breast to lie –
Only a Bird will wonder –
Only a Breeze will sigh –
Ah Little Rose – how easy
For such as thee to die!

In my mind’s (mental) eye, the poem puts me into the story of one whose love (emotion) for another is expressed with feeling for nature’s gifts, in the form of the “little Rose – ”. In this initial reference the lower case “l” connotes any pretty flower. Nature, then, is the thing that stimulates an appreciation of its artistry. I am including myself and others as equivalent to the flower. For, we, along with the rose, “It might a pilgrim be”.

But, when “…I …take it from the ways” I participate with Nature as creator. Also, then the rose becomes part of a larger music, in the form of the poem’s rhythm. I, too, become a part of this Nature narrative, as the flower and myself are captured in poetry.

I’m told† this poem was included with a real rose to show love to a friend: “And lift it up to thee.” I am persuaded to take my place with “Only a Bee (who) will miss it – / Only a Butterfly,” by anticipating the loss of the flower once it has been given away. But, to trust my mind, rather than my feelings, as a means to express and to share an intellectual appreciation of beauty with a loved one.

There is more for me than a tender use of imagery in “Hastening from far journey – / On its breast to lie -”. It is a continuation of the poem’s conveyance that there is equal value between mind and emotion, as well as between Nature’s other signs of life and its human beings. I may “wonder” and “sigh” over what is lost; while not hesitating to act to enlarge my scope of expression. In the next-to-last line, the now titled, “Little Rose”, dies in order to become part of my larger story in expressing all I can to a loved one.

The poem invites me to experience concepts with great emotional feeling or to express emotions in an intellectual manner. Feeling and intellect are synthesized is in the poem.

Ponder A Poem A Day – Accept What Comes Your Way

†R. W. Franklin. The Poems of Emily Dickinson, Variorum Edition. Pages 66-68. Franklin also provides information for this note: This is one of the poems by Dickinson that was actually published. It appeared in the Springfield (Massachusetts) Republican daily newspaper on August 2, 1858. Tradition has it that Dickinson’s sister-in-law, Susan, is responsible for sending it to the paper.

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