Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Little Toil of Love

I had no time to Hate—
The Grave would hinder Me—
And Life was not so
Ample I
Could finish—Enmity—

Nor had I time to Love—
But since
Some Industry must be—
The little Toil of Love—
I thought
Be large enough for Me—

Emily Dickinson's ironic voice is all the more intriguing for the way she is able to turn it off and on, the way she slides in and out of it. With a word, you suddenly find yourself in a whole new poem. "I had no time to Hate / Because" life is too short...for all the hating that needs to be done! And there isn't time enough to love, but, eh, one needs to do something.

Is this her way of telling the truth slant, of shocking our mild sensibilities with her hyperbole of hate and belittling of love, to make the reader consider the waste of the first and the real waste of a life without the second?

Or was she really of this frame of mind at this moment, that as for hate, where does one even begin, and as for love, well, why not? No irony intended? As with almost everything she wrote, it is never the same poem twice.

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