XIII: Memorials by Emily Dickinson
Death sets a thing significant
The eye had hurried by,
Except a perished creature
Entreat us tenderly
To ponder little workmanships
In crayon or in wool,
With “This was last her fingers did,”
The thimble weighed too heavy,
The stitches stopped themselves,
And then ‘t was put among the dust
Upon the closet shelves.
A book I have, a friend gave,
Whose pencil, here and there,
Had notched the place that pleased him, —
At rest his fingers are.
Now, when I read, I read not,
For interrupting tears
Obliterate the etchings
Too costly for repairs.
I am currently taking the MOOC by University of Pennsylvania: ModPo. It is such a joy to be a part of. In days I’ve gone from thinking Dickinson’s poems were pretty much nonsensical to realizing she had things to say. It’s been great for me as a poet and poetry reader to learn so much. It’s also helped me recover from doing horrible in my summer literature class. I am enjoying the discussions we’re having and encourage you to come join us. The class is free on Coursera and has just started.
This poem reminds me of the memories etched in items people leave behind. I can relate to that. Sometimes I debate if I should keep something or toss it solely because of sentimental value. I don’t think that way as often as most…but it does occur to me.
I like the mention of the crayon in the poem and the book. Those seem the most familiar to me. “now when I read I read not” is definitely a picture of memories getting in the way of an object being simply an object. I feel that way about math for some reason. I feel this press of memories that are quite negative.
I hope this doesn’t make the comparison weaker because math teachers are quite different from close friends in this analogy.
Anyways…here I am struggling over a limit equation and not being able to connect the dots between a limit and its graphical and logical explanation. I feel the tension of all those math teachers and tutors…even students, telling me I’m not studying right, I ask too many questions, I take too long on one problem, and maybe math isn’t my thing…but it’s okay because nobody really likes the subject. I’m thinking WHAT I do like math and what’s so wrong with the way I study? I realize sometimes I need to speed things up to cover ground but I also need to take time and think.
Getting rid of negative feelings that have been tossed over my studies is a challenge…but I’m consciously battling it.
Sure in math and in poetry there are questions but they don’t have to completely obstruct me. I don’t get why the “etchings” are “Too costly for repair” but I’m not crying over it. I know there are people to help me understand, that I can muse over it, and that I can just relax and enjoy the poem.