Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Soul unto itself

The Soul unto itself
Is an imperial friend--
Or the most agonizing Spy--
An Enemy-- could send--

Secure against it's own--
No treason it can fear--
Itself-- it's Sovreign-- Of itself
The Soul should stand in Awe--
(F 579)

For many people I do believe that the soul can be one's dearest friend or worst enemy. We don't hear as much about one's conscience any more. Many people have managed to shut out that voice that directs them, to tune it out so effectively that they no longer hear it. I like to believe that it speaks up now and then to even the most calloused person. And yet the news is full of people who have committed horrible acts and have absolutely no remorse.

I supposed the flip side is that we still hear about people who truly live beyond themselves-- and who do it for no other reason than wanting to help others. People like Mother Teresa spend their lives in total service to others, and yet I know she has written that even her own soul could bring her great torment. In this regard, perhaps our souls are things we should be in awe of-- the megaphone through which we hear the divine. And this poem makes me think that perhaps Dickinson felt great awe, both the friend and spy at war perpetually within her.

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