Comment 2 of 35, added on October 26th, 2009 at 6:09 PM.
In poem 1775, Dickinson’s lesbian persona presents several aspects of
lesbian lovemaking as activities involving ‘face’, ‘hand’ and ‘tongue’ that
many would find difficult to believe, or find ‘incredulous’, if merely
hearing (of) it, but would believe after witnessing it – and here Dickinson
leaves it ambiguous as to whether by ‘Who witnesses’ she means the witness
as an observer of lesbians making love, or the witness as someone who is
actually indulging in lesbian lovemaking.
Her face was in a bed of hair,
Like flowers in a plot –
Her hand was whiter than the sperm
That feeds the sacred light.
Her tongue more tender than the tune
That totters in the leaves –
Who hears may be incredulous,
Who witnesses, believes. (1755)
Dickinson’s inclusion of the word ‘sperm’ in the third line is ironic, for
it is a word used to describe something ultimately male, yet it is a word
that has been inserted into a poem from which males are excluded. Instead
Dickinson focuses on the ‘face’, the ‘hand’ and the ‘tongue’ of a ‘tender’
‘Her’. This particular lesbian persona is describing what is being done to
her, for she speaks of ‘Her’ lover’s ‘tongue’ being
…more tender than the tune
That totters in the leaves (1755)
Emily Dickinson wrote many erotic poems, some heterosexual, some lesbian.
She's a very great poet whose full range is still not fully appreciated.
© R J Dent (2009)
R J Dent
from United Kingdom