Uranus stations direct at the end of Pisces. What does that give us? Lightning bolts shooting out of the fog. Like a haunted cloud. Dangerous and potentially deceptive. In the end, illuminating. Emily offers the following:
#417, c. 1862
It is dead — find it —
Out of sound — Out of sight —
“Happy”? Which is wiser —
You, or the Wind?
“Conscious”? Won’t you ask that —
Of the low Ground?
“Homesick”? Many met it —
Even through them — This
Cannot testify —
Themself — as dumb —
Something has died, a thing beyond her grasp. She was not able to resuscitate it. What ever this “it” is. The question in these lines that lingers in my thoughts is “Which is wiser — / You, or the Wind?” All these words “happy”, “conscious”, “homesick”, are conditions of human life. The poet wants to know, “So what?” It is dead, and if it is dead, then so what?
She scares me sometimes when she does this. She renounces common grammar along with ordinary human attachments. You know the ones I mean. The hunger we have for meaning, for the happy ending where it all comes out right and proper.
Instead Emily bores down into the words to a level so unadorned that she rids them of any influence or prejudice. Sentence structure always has an ulterior motive. Some yearning or unseen agenda. She is trying to boil the language clean of all that. To set the words on the page with the same direct purity as the wind blowing across the hillside.
She’s doing this, I fear again, because there is something in Emily that dreads being human. That seeks an utterly unadorned existence. Why? Partly she is driven by her own neurotic curiosity. She needs to see what it’s like. And because she can. Sheer talent drives her. She has to explore the extent of her own power and courage to descend into purity of expression. If nothing else, for the sake of finding the outer boundary of her own genius. Because it’s there.
Also she dreads and sheds these adornments because they are too sweet for her. The pain of losing this sweetness is unbearable. The shadow side of her genius.
Grammar makes suffering of us all.
So who is wiser? You or the wind? Who would you rather be? Your self with all your sticky, stinky assumptions? The creases that hold decaying matter that rots your soul as surely as the teeth drop from your head? Or would you rather slip across the page like the wind? Like air moving in a smooth, unending stream that catches nothing in its way because it is as no thing itself? Which of these possibilities seems the wiser? She poses the question as if we had a choice. To be wise as the wind. Or remain as foolish as we are born.
Oddly or maybe not, the wind this morning is bringing down all the red leaves from my crepe myrtle tree. The flowers are long dead. We move toward the winter solstice, burrowing into the dark. Who says we don’t have a real fall here in New Orleans?