Saturday, May 21, 2016

What did she see iii

                I had been hungry, all the Years -
                My Noon had Come - to dine -
                I trembling drew the Table near -
                And touched the Curious Wine -

                'Twas this on Tables I had seen -
                When turning, hungry, Home
                I looked in Windows, for the Wealth
                I could not hope - for Mine -

                I did not know the ample Bread -
                'Twas so unlike the Crumb
                The Birds and I, had often shared
                In Nature's - Dining Room -

                The Plenty hurt me - 'twas so new -
                Myself felt ill - and odd -
                As Berry - of a Mountain Bush -
                Transplanted - to the Road -

                Nor was I hungry - so I found
                That Hunger - was a way
                Of persons Outside Windows -
                The entering - takes away -

In commentary on this poem, Helen Vendler graphs a struggle between a hungry past - feelings long con-tinued that became, over time, the motives and shapers of the self - and its present dismayed repu-diation, structured by an oscillation between the past tense and the pluper-fect past, as marking a dour discontinuity between naïveté and knowledge.

One reads a political cam-paign of chronic unforced errors, and of consciously antagonizing complacency, as signs of misdirected anxiety to fulfill itself, revealed in contradiction.


Emily Dickinson

Helen Vendler
  Selected Poems and
Belknap Press
Harvard University Press, 2010©

Sybille Bergemann
Polaroid photograph

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