Saturday, August 28, 2010

I stepped from Plank to Plank

I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The stars about my Head I felt
About my Feet the Sea--

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch--
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience
(F 926)

There is something about experience that molds and shapes us. Many people have experiences that scar them, some that strenghen them. No matter how a person responds to the challenges of life, these challenges often etch themselves upon a life with long-range effects. Stretching a bit of meaning here, the stars and sea could be archetypes of, respectively, dreams/hopes and challenges/fears. Throughout history, the stars have inspired wishes and might just be the substance of what Dickinson terms "possiblity." No doubt growing up in New England Dickinson would have been at least somewhat familiar of the dangers and challenges of the sea. While she might not have travelled extensively, her imagination clearly works. Seas are uncertain and often untameable.

This persona speaks of "planks," upon which he or she steps. Perhaps it is the speaker's desire to stay grounded, or possibly it is a symbol of man attemping to lay out structure or stability to an uncertain life. (to be continued)