For now I’ll stick to the original plan which was to read the poems in chronological order. The purpose being to use the poems simply as a launch into spontaneous writing. So I’ll take each poem and respond as I do to each morning, each moment, each thunder clap, each season, each love.
Today gives us a glorious pouring down rain, rattling the leaves of the banana trees. Lance and I got caught in the downpour on our walk. Good thing I remembered my sunglasses. We were both soaked by the time we got back home. That’s okay. I’ve been told that I am not made of sugar, and I won’t melt. For whatever that’s worth.
#4, 1853 Emily and her “Pilot” proceed.
On this wondrous sea
Ho! Pilot, ho!
Knowest thou the shore
Where no breakers roar —
Where the storm is o’er?
In the peaceful west
Many the sails at rest —
The anchors fast —
Thither I pilot thee —
Land Ho! Eternity!
Ashore at last!
She’s asking a lot of questions of her pilot. Who’s in charge? In the end of this short poem, Emily has taken the wheel of the vessel and announces that she will pilot it to “Eternity”.
“Ashore at last!”
I like that shift when she/poet takes control. I hear her claiming authority over her own spiritual life. She knows where she is going. Who is this other Pilot? A minister? The clergy guiding our vessels across the sea? Emily pilots her own ship, her own body and soul toward the shore “where no breakers roar.” Moving on her own toward silence.
Funny that. The writer’s ultimate destination is silence. All these words, thousands, maybe millions, stones in a path toward infinite silence. She’s looking for that, anticipating it. There is peace and rest in that silence. And I must wonder at the temperament of a woman who devotes nearly every minute of her life to the crafty consignment of words to paper, who also knows at this young age (she was 22 years old when she wrote this poem) that the long arc of her busy, wordy life would lead to silence. And that she looks to that with some pleasure—it sounds like. I imagine her/me/all of us as chattering magpies, saying as much as possible before someone puts out the lights.
For what, for what? Well, in Em’s case: The purpose was to provide something for me to read here on my porch, while Lance yarfs and snorfles at the squirrels. Something to read. A hook to hang my thoughts on.
Thank you, Emily.