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Poems

J327

Before I got my eye put out
I liked as well to see -
As other Creatures, that have Eyes
And know no other way -

But were it told to me - Today -
That I might have the sky
For mine - I tell you that my Heart
Would split, for size of me -

The Meadows - mine -
The Mountains - mine -
All Forests - Stintless Stars -
As much of Noon as I could take
Between my finite eyes -

The Motions of the Dipping Birds -
The Morning's Amber Road -
For mine - to look at when I liked -
The News would strike me dead -

So safer - guess - with just my soul
Upon the Window pane -
Where other Creatures put their eyes -
Incautious - of the Sun -

c. 1862                            1891

 

This poem is a very effective expression of the psychology of renunciation. Here she uses sight as a metaphor for fulfilment. Having once lost what she desired, and afraid to suffer such pain again, she now finds spiritual possession "safer" than physical satisfaction.