Sunday, March 12, 2017
Shadows 1 (While I delay to guess)
Oh Shadow on the Grass,
Art thou a Step or not?
Go make thee fair my Candidate
My nominated Heart—
Oh Shadow on the Grass
While I delay to guess
Some other thou wilt consecrate—
Oh Unelected Face—
I could try to explicate that poem here, but like so many other poems by this poet, it deserves a book all for itself. The syntax alone provides enough ambiguity for about, oh, let's say fifty possible interpretations. The speculation about whose or what "Shadow on the Grass" could lead us to another fifty.
But that line, "While I delay to guess" is what, for me, is the crux of this poem. While one hesitates to make a decision—hesitates either out of fear, or the desire to make a well-informed choice—a decision is made without one.
It doesn't help that I misread the last line when I first looked at this poem this morning. I thought it said "Oh Unelected Fate," rather than "Face."
And what brought me to this poem was the word "shadow." I need to check a concordance, but this is not a word Dickinson seems to have used too often. More about this after I do some actual research.
It is the shadow in the poem that seems to be doing the consecrating, doing the choosing during the moment of the speaker's hesitation. That's one important shadow. Could it be her own shadow, the self that makes a difficult decision, only to regret or question oneself for the rest of one's days?
Well, as I said, it would take a book to even begin to understand this poem. That's what I love about Emily Dickinson.
The collage is titled Shadows 1 (While I delay to guess).