Tuesday, November 3, 2009

How many schemes may die

How many schemes may die
In one short Afternoon
Entirely unknown
To those they most concern--
The man that was not lost
Because by accident
He varied by a Ribbon's width
From his accustomed route--
The Love that would not try
Because beside the Door
Some unsuspecting Horse was tied
Surveying his Despair
(F 1326)

There are so many things that happen, seemingly by chance, that alter lives and expectations. It was Robert Burns who wrote "The best laid schemes of mice and men oft go awry, and leave us nothing but grief and pain for promised joy." In this particular poem, a person may have planned the ruin of another, in the case of the man walking along the road. The death of the man in the road was avoided when the man, ignorant of his danger, changed his normal route by the slightest bit. Certainly the one who schemed against him was thwarted, this person's plans dying in the short afternoon, the failure of the plan to kill another dying unbeknowst to the planner.

The poem reads as if this man, who narrowly missed his death, is the very one whose own route was changed by the appearance of a horse at the doorway. The implication appears to be that this man was visiting his beloved, perhaps wife or sweetheart or lover, to find another's animal tied out front. Seeing this unexpected horse, Dickinson's poem implies that the man would not try to love or pursue his love. In this way, the man's plans were additionally thwarted. Perhaps this beloved was not unfaithful, perhaps the original schemer wished to drive a wedge between the man and his love. The beloved's plans of love and a future or continued future with her lover could equally have been thwarted, all unknown to her.

and... it's entirely possible that I have completely misinterpreted this poem.

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