One right after the other. Emily every day, each day more horrible than the next. And more amusing.
#410, c. 1862
The first Day’s Night had come—
And grateful that a thing
So terrible — had been endured —
I told my Soul to sing—
She said her Strings were snapt—
Her Bow — to Atoms blown —
And so to mend — gave me work
Until another Morn —
And then — a Day as huge
As Yesterdays in pairs,
Unrolled its horror in my face —
Until it blocked my eyes —
My Brain — begun to laugh —
I mumbled — like a fool —
And tho’ ’tis Years ago — that Day —
My Brain keeps giggling — still.
And Something’s odd — within —
That person that I was —
And this One — do not feel the same —
Could it be Madness — this?
I love the image of Emily’s Brain giggling. My focus goes to the last stanza where she questions her own sanity. I don’t believe she really thinks her grip on her mind is loosening. Or if it is, then it is a divine sort of madness.
The part I zero in on is that she looks at herself in the past, the girl who has suffered some horror, and feels she is not the same person now, who can see the past and laugh at it. In the past, the horror filled her eyes such that it felt real, as if it would be all she’d ever see again . . . for the rest of her life!! Oh, the drama. Emily has sport with her own emotional extremes. I love her self-mockery here. She calls herself a fool, but it doesn’t sound angry so much as amazed at her own ability to create dramas with her mind.
This is the same mind or “Brain” that can also look with some distance on her emotional melodrama and be amused by it. Maybe there is a difference between Brain and mind. Or Brain and Soul. The Soul can’t sing. She is wounded, her bow and strings destroyed. Forever!!
The Brain, that thinking organ, is able to take the long view and see the humor in all the Soul’s heart rending drama. So that split between Brain and Soul is where Emily gets caught and wonders if she is crazy. Both seem real, but how can they co-exist?
Again, I don’t take the question seriously, and I don’t think Emily does either. This is a divine separation that she must navigate in order to understand herself. She and I and you have many selves being born, living and dying within us all the time. And what a relief to know there is some cool, observing intellect who can see the humor in the situation. There is a whole village of selves, unruly, noisy, within any one of us, I imagine. Thank God. How boring otherwise.
I like that Emily folds herself into the embrace of her larger, intellectual self. The Brain is the governess of this village, and She is a benevolent dictator. What else can one do with these other noisy selves but laugh? Treat them like a litter of puppies. How humbling and how healthy, and what a relief to be able to laugh. It’s a sign that we are bigger, more inclusive, than we might think. There is more to us, more citizens in our village, than we thought at first. More resources, more back-up.
Hey! I welcome more selves to my village. Strength in numbers, I always say. Who cares if I don’t immediately recognize them. We’ll get to know each other eventually. I have room enough in my psyche to hold them all. It’s big in there. I know. I’ve spent a lot of time wandering in that space, and I haven’t found the outer boundary yet. Besides, I can always add another wing if need be.