Emily Dickinson’s poetry is often short and cryptic but also rich with emotion and imagery one can appreciate even if they cannot fully decipher it. A versatile woman who wrote of nature, death, love, religion, and even feminism, she had a unique perspective on everyday sights. She was able find the beauty in death and the melancholy in joy. The following is one of the latter:
From all the Jails the Boys and Girls
Ecstatically leap –
Beloved only Afternoon
That Prison doesn’t keep
They storm the Earth and stun the Air,
A Mob of solid Bliss –
Alas – that Frowns should lie in wait
For such a Foe as this –
Like Emily, I dwell on death and misery too much. Death’s contours are accentuated most by a joyful sight, such as children at play. I suffer the same thoughts Emily did when I see a happy child. The joy empathy blesses me when I see one quickly sours as reality reminds me of the cruelties of the world. Some children will die early, some will grow wicked, and some will suffer atrocities no loving god would allow. I’d prefer to avoid such thoughts, but such hardships happen too frequently to ignore.
I don’t voice such worries, because I don’t want to frighten away everybody with my pessimism. Instead, I muffle them with videogames and alcohol. But to read a common thought of mine written by my favorite poet eases the sting with which Death bullies me. It’s become an incantation to repel that demon far enough to where I can’t hear his bark anymore.
I can enjoy joy again.
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