Monday, September 28, 2009

Color-- Caste-- Denomination

I took a break to do more reading/research, and yet I haven't really done very much. That said, I don't want to get out of the discipline of writing, so here I go writing with or without research...

Color-- Caste-- Denomination--
These-- are Time's Affair--
Death's diviner Classifying
Does not know they are--

As in sleep-- all Hue forgotten--
Tenets-- put behind--
Death's large-- Democratic fingers
Rub away the Brand--

If Circassian-- He is careless--
If He put away
Chrysalis of Blonde-- or Umber--
Equal Butterfly--

They emerge from His Obscuring--
What Death-- knows so well--
Our minuter intuitions--
Deem unplasusible
(F 836)

In this poem Dickinson captures not only the universal-ness of death, who misses none, but she also captures and portrays the leveling of death. In death there is no regard for class, race, religion, gender, or any other distinguishing feature that we living are so tedious to create and maintain. Often I wonder if this is why Dickinson writes so much about death and seems to fascinated by death-- because it is the humbling experience everyone faces, and no one is exempt from it. There are no kinder deaths for the rich or refined, there are no chances to name one's own death (save suicide, which is not guaranteed to be successful as some survived the attempt, often a with devastating aftermath).

Death truly has "democratic fingers," and the only ones that may have escaped death would be found in the biblical accounts of Elijah, Enoch, and Jesus. I would be curious to see a poem of Dickinson's regarding those three. Disregarding those three men and disregarding myths of similar people escaping the actual death experience, it is clear that death is fixed. We are all dying someday, and we will all die someday. Whether the coffin is fancy or plain, whether it is made of crude planks or mahogany, we cannot forever avoid death. I think Dickinson took some comfort and possibly some satisfaction in that fact. It's surprising how morbid a wren-like poet perpetually in white can be. And yet, I think she embraced death as a natural part of the life-cycle, and I don't believe this poem is necessarily dark or twisted. She understood that there is purpose in endings and in even death.

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