“The Cat” by Hans Thoma
“The Cat” by Hans Thoma

We grow accustomed to the Dark –
When Light is put away –
As when the Neighbor holds the Lamp
To witness her Good bye –

A Moment – We uncertain step
For newness of the night –
Then – fit our Vision to the Dark –
And meet the Road – erect –

And so of larger – Darknesses –
Those Evenings of the Brain –
When not a Moon disclose a sign –
Or Star – come out – within –

The Bravest – grope a little –
And sometimes hit a Tree
Directly in the Forehead –
But as they learn to see –

Either the Darkness alters –
Or something in the sight
Adjusts itself to Midnight –
And Life steps almost straight.

~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #428)

16 thoughts on “light”

    1. Not sure why cats are appearing in my life so much lately… If only I could draw so well and write such meaningful poetry and keep a couple of cats, how different my life would be…

    1. Thanks, Mags! It’s as if the cat is witnessing the couple’s “goodbye” in the evening, as they start out for home after a visit, and adjust to walking in the coming darkness…

    1. I think I remember pictures of Patrick and Dougan on your blog or on Facebook, Laurie – how you must miss their wonderful feline presence… *hugs* Cats take darkness in stride and have so many things to teach and so many gifts to give us, even after they’ve departed…

    1. Thanks, Rosie – I’m glad you appreciate how well Emily’s words and Thoma’s sketch go together. There is something about adjusting to the darkness at dusk each night that teaches us about other kinds of perceived darkness…

  1. Hi. This is the first time I’ve seen this particular poem. I love the drawing of the cat. There seem to be words carved into the windowsill? Jane

    1. It does look like words carved into the windowsill but I can’t make them out and they don’t look much like the artist’s name. Love the cat intently watching the couple meet the road as darkness falls…

    1. We all learn so much through sharing, Kathy! It’s amazing the little gems that can be found in Shambhala Pocket Classics! (Wisdom to be tucked into one’s handbag…)

  2. Barbara, I’m watching the light come through an early morning rain and so enjoying Emily’s words and the watchful cat. Like Laurie, it brings back memories of the special cats that have blessed our life.

    1. Oh Colleen, I love rainy mornings and the soft light they bring to us… Cats are the ultimate observers, I think, and sometimes it seems like they are conveying their wordless thoughts to us as they gaze intently at something or other… Enjoy your morning – it’s afternoon here!

  3. As some of the other comments say…I wasn’t familiar with this poem either, and I thought I had read all of Emily’s. And now it is one of my favorite’s…as I love the dark and often find such direction in it. The drawing matches her style and it could almost be an image of her, gazing out the window, contained behind its glass but also able to see and imagine beyond. I am going to share this on Facebook and twitter if I may.

    1. Of course you may share this, Diane. 🙂 I’m sorry I didn’t find your comment sooner than this. Emily often wrote poems that were included in letters she wrote to her friends and family. I wonder if this one is from one of those letters and wasn’t included when the poetry found in her room was originally published. I love the evening light fading into darkness, too… So happy to share a new favorite for you!

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