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Poems

J1400

What mystery pervades a well!
That water lives so far -
A neighbour from another world
Residing in a jar

Whose limit none have ever seen,
But just his lid of glass -
Like looking every time you please
In an abyss's face!

The grass does not appear afraid,
I often wonder he
Can stand so close and look so bold
At what is awe to me.

Related somehow they may be,
The sedge stands next the sea -
Where he is floorless
And does no timidity betray

But nature is a stranger yet;
The ones that cite her most
Have never passed her haunted house,
Nor simplified her ghost.

To pity those that know her not
Is helped by the regret
That those who know her, know her less
The nearer her they get.

1877                    1896

 

In a poem that is clearly related to the odd note she sent to Higginson in 1876 (see letter 459A, in Critical Texts), Dickinson is expressing the Romantic belief that the ultimate truth of existence surpasses all merely empirical knowledge. This poem constitutes an intriguing parallel with Robert Frost's "For Once, Then, Something" (1920).