Today is my birthday, and Emily has given me a lovely birthday gift. Her poem concerns each individual’s life purpose and . . . interestingly . . . reincarnation. See what you think.
It’s a longish poem so I’ll just give you the parts that hit me the hardest.
#680, c. 1863
Each Life Converges to some Center —
Expressed — or still —
Exists in every Human Nature
A Goal —
She begins by telling us that each of us has a special purpose, a reason for manifesting into flesh. Then she spends few more stanzas reassuring us that this goal may be too far to reach, that’s okay, it’s expected and no reason to stop pursuing the goal. Then here’s her kicker at the end. Emily goes for the gymnastic leap into another realm altogether at the very end. Her dismount is always spectactular.
Ungained — it may be —by a Life’s slow Venture —
But then —
Eternity enable the endeavoring
Again. Again, she says. You get to try it again after death. So now does that mean your soul gets to continue pursuing this goal after it leaves your body? Or does she mean that your goal may continue its existence with the next fleshy manifestation?
If you miss this train, Em says, it’s okay. There is another one coming down the track.
The poem makes me wonder what did Emily think that her life’s goal was. I mean the one she didn’t reach. Expressed or still, the goal remains. The girl who wrote a poem every day for years, almost all her life. If that wasn’t the center that her life had converged on, what was, I wonder. What did our wonderfully prolific and productive poet think she was supposed to be doing but then considered that would not be hers in this life time?
This sounds to me like divine discontent. She answers it with a suggestion that Eternity give us a chance to endeavor onward. The ending on that single word, “Again” is a shivery promise.
I don’t know if Em considers reincarnation a possibility. She may have meant that this goal is a spiritual perfection that is unreachable in this “Low Venture” we have on earth. That only after death when we are finally liberated from the limitations of our physical cage, can we achieve that goal.
She could go that way. It would be the conventional way to see this. But I don’t want to go the conventional route here.
I can’t get away from that shivery, solitary “Again” standing there at the end. Her solid dismount off the end of this poem lands on “Again”. This is starting over. Flipping back onto the wheel of life. Each time we may or may not come closer to that goal. What could it have been for her? Finding the right word? Was that it, Em? You wrote all those poems because you had to burrow down to the right word. Was each one a near miss? I can see her looking at this mass of work and thinking she had only come close to her goal. Clearly she never rested on the last poem. Another one had to come out because the last one didn’t do it. Didn’t come quite right to the point.
This is her existential crisis. She produced all those words in a mania to reach an unreachable goal. The perfect poem.
Or was it something else, Emily? What did you want that you didn’t get? I could guess, but I’m afraid my vision would fall short of yours. My dear friend, I hope you taste fulfillment where ever you land again.