a wooden way

"The Little Owl" by Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) German Artist
“The Little Owl” by Albrecht Dürer

After great pain, a formal feeling comes –
The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs –
The stiff Heart questions ‘was it He, that bore,’
And ‘Yesterday, or Centuries before’?

The Feet, mechanical, go round –
A Wooden way
Of Ground, or Air, or Ought –
Regardless grown,
A Quartz contentment, like a stone –

This is the Hour of Lead –
Remembered, if outlived,
As Freezing persons, recollect the Snow –
First — Chill — then Stupor — then the letting go –

~ Emily Dickinson
(The Poems of Emily Dickinson, #372)

18 thoughts on “a wooden way”

  1. There is some deep underlying sadness within… this poem. a moving on, while the owl is ever watchful: The owl also offers… the inspiration and guidance necessary to deeply explore the unknown and the magic of life.

    Of course Emily seem to be alway exploring the unknown and magic of death. The dance of life and death begins at our Birth, evolution allows us to expand, to grow…
    There is a season…

    1. There truly is a season, Jeff, and while we are walking under the shadow death here at home, we are learning the magic of it in spite of feeling like lifeless robots as we muddle through our days. It’s amazing how the days seem to be speeding past, and yet, each day is so long in the living of it. This poem used to make me think of the aftermath of a migraine episode, but now makes me think of the inertia of loss and anticipatory grief.

    1. An impressive swoop, indeed. We have an owl sitting quietly in the winter woods on one of our holiday cards this year – Tim loves them.

  2. I have always LOVED this Dickinson poem–especially that last line–the letting go.

    I had to stop by, Barbara. We read so many of the same blogs, and I’ve seen you at my place a time or two, I think.

    Hugs from Ecuador,

    1. Kathy, how wonderful that you love this poem as much as I do, a bright spot for me savor during this endless Hour of Lead. I hope I will be stopping by your place more often in the future – right now it feels like my life is on hold as I wait to let go after this long and painful good-bye. *hugs* right back to you there in Ecuador!

  3. This picture brought back bittersweet memories of a lovely summer evening at my dad’s several years ago. I’d gone to visit him, and he went to bed at dusk, so I took a lawn chair outside. I was surprised to discover that there were several owls swooping over the yard and nearby fields. I sat totally engrossed watching them for the longest time. I think that I felt the most in harmony with nature that evening that I’ve ever felt in my life.

    1. Oh Sheryl, what a thrill watching the owls swooping near you must have been! Sometimes it feels like nature is blessing us with a special gift that we will treasure forever. My husband is fond of owls. My mother rescued a baby owl once and it lived in our bathroom until it was ready to make it on his own in the woods. So many magical things happen at dusk, the presence of owls suggests change, life’s transitions…

    1. Snowing today, gently, time seems to be standing still, waiting for the death quietly, startling at noises, life surrounding us…

  4. Such an extraordinary expression of loss, of letting go, of perhaps even finding flight again, Barbara. There is such solace in poetry like this … and the majesty of nature. Blessings. XO

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