Comment 1 of 13, added on August 7th, 2005 at 11:19 PM.
This is not one of her more difficult poems, but it is one of the best at
showing her honesty regarding faith and doubt, two of her most visited
themes. Perhaps the most repeated themes in her poety is "the next life,"
the brevity of this life, and the critical passage of death, moving from
mortality to immortality.
The first stanza is so modern... she faces the unavoidable doubts of belief
and acknowledges plainly, with some irony, that the bridge of faith linking
this life with the next is unhappily weaker than we'd like, and there is no
doubt a desire that there should be firmer evidence if not outright proof.
But doubt is an essential ingredient of faith. Without doubt, faith would
not be faith at all, but knowledge.
Yet she is aware that though she may wish for more compelling evidence, her
faith (and from her other work and from the 2nd stanza, we know she is
referring to Christian faith) is not blind but bound in history in the
person of Jesus, "his son." He who while dying cried..."My God, why have
you forsaken me" was also the one who rose from death and declared the
Reality on which faith, not sight, risks everything, and He pronounced it
We Christian believers are too often either afraid of or in denial of our
own doubts. We'd do well to follow Ms. Dickinson and acknowledge the
doubts fully, and then decide by an act of the will to stand on that
bridge. It is indeed amazing that while the bridge may totter, it carries
us to a real immortality. No wonder this rickety old bridge is crowded.
We may wish there was no tottering, but it's the best, indeed the only,
bridge we have.
J. Mark Hunt
from United States