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Emily Dickinson - Did life's penurious length

Did life's penurious length
Italicize its sweetness,
The men that daily live
Would stand so deep in joy
That it would clog the cogs
Of that revolving reason
Whose esoteric belt
Protects our sanity.

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Added: Jan 9 2004 | Viewed: 2085 times | Comments and analysis of Did life's penurious length by Emily Dickinson Comments (2)

Did life's penurious length - Comments and Information

Poet: Emily Dickinson
Poem: 1717. Did life's penurious length
Volume: Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson
Year: Published/Written in 1955

Comment 2 of 2, added on November 7th, 2005 at 5:24 PM.

Dickinson takes a look, obliquely (these were deep Victorians-) at the idea of chastity, and finds it not worth the wait. The short lives of the Victorians, abetted by the American Civil War with its 620,000 dead, had degraded longevity. Dickinson lived a long, hemmed, claustrophobic life-topped with a father who stifled her every attempt to live. The poem is a great cry for help. A help which never came. She had become infatuated with Thomas Wentworth Higginson, but the affair never moved beyond her own thwarted attempts at presenting her desire to him. Penurious length: a reference to the paucity of love,and the emotional poverty around her. Tragic and yet beautiful, like so much of Dickinsons work.

warren leming
Comment 1 of 2, added on November 13th, 2004 at 11:16 PM.

I understand this poem to say that, IF we were moved to joy by the shortness of life, our rationality would be overcome, and we would lose our sanity [since it is so short]. Underlying this, I believe, is the notion that it's shortness, in reality, is the danger to calm reason.

Jeff Shapiro from United States

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