‘Twas just this time, last year, I died.
I know I heard the Corn,
When I was carried by the Farms —
It had the Tassels on —
I thought how yellow it would look —
When Richard went to mill —
And then, I wanted to get out,
But something held my will.
I thought just how Red — Apples wedged
The Stubble’s joints between —
And the Carts stooping round the fields
To take the Pumpkins in —
I wondered which would miss me, least,
And when Thanksgiving, came,
If Father’d multiply the plates —
To make an even Sum —
And would it blur the Christmas glee
My Stocking hang too high
For any Santa Claus to reach
The Altitude of me —
But this sort, grieved myself,
And so, I thought the other way,
How just this time, some perfect year —
Themself, should come to me —
For my highschool class, i had to read this poem, it was not recomended but i choose it. I think she shows transcendentalism and that we must not miss what we have left behind, even if that means not missing our true faith that we are some how bounded to.
Richard Brevans below writes, “You notice the word “tassels” to describe the yellow corn, thats strange” There’s nothing strange about it. That’s exactly what corn tassels are called and de-tasseling the corn is something rural children used to do to prevent cross polination — something I’m sure Dickinson knew all about.
I got a different view while reading it. I kept thinking how everyone wants people to miss them after they are gone… it shows that they were loved and important. But then I think Emily realized that if people missed her all the time things would be miserable- her stocking wouldn’t be filled, her plate at the table would be empty… so instead she focused on that they would all be reunited one day anyways and there is no need for them to miss her as much as she may deserve.
This poem is really a nasty attack by Dickinson on the Puritan-type education and upbringing she had. But its all in a kind of code. You notice the word “tassels” to describe the yellow corn, thats strange, and combined with the color red in the next verse, and you realize that she’s making fun of her Puritan college, Mount Holyoke, whose school colors are red and yellow. So the students are just like rows and rows of corn wearing their graduation caps with tassels, that’s what she thinks of them, that they are like dumb vegetables. Then the other thing in the poem is the line about her father multiplying the plates, which is a reference to a Thanksgiving ceremoney of the Puritans, where they would start handing around a plate with food on it once the whole town got together, and then people would take out plates with food they had brought, secretly, and so after a while there would be lots and lots plates in the room. It was supposed to be like an episode in the Bible, where one basket of bread fed everybody in a miracle. This ceremoney was called “multiplying the plates,” and so when the father does this it seems good at first, but then you realize that he is missing the speaker “least”. The speaker is hurt that her father, of all people, misses her least, and that he cares more about virtual strangers at these public meetings, where he’s passing out plates of food, than he does about her. So all in all the Puritans come across as stupid conformity lovers, like rows of standing corn, or really heartless people who say they love Jesus but don’t even care about their own family members.
who are you, Richard Bevans? I found your explanation interesting but wondered where the ideas come from.
I too found this to be an interesting comment particularly about the “multiplying of the plates.” yet I have searched all over the internet to find confirmation of this tradition of multiplying the plates and can not find anything about it. That doesn’t particularly surprise me because the internet is mainly about selling things, There could possibly be something in a library somewhere. Do you have a citation or reference for this?
On first reading I thought that the poem was actually Dickinson taking on this persona of a child that has died, as the objects that this child remembers are things that children notice e.g. tasesls and christmas stockings etc. But perhaps the most sinister thing about this poem is how at the end, the child says they will come to her. Her family after they die, not to heaven or God. Ort to see her again and be one one big happy family, but to her. It sounds like a self-centered and selfish child and even worse a evil presence. As by saying to her, it sounds as if shes about to eat them or something. But thats just my opnion.
I thought one of the most significant points of the poem was that on carefully reading it appears she is talking about the corn,apple, pumpkin,stockings i.e.representations of the seasons, and thanksgiving and christmas and such in terms of missing her and not people emphasised by the ‘which'(not who) would miss her ‘least’ (and not most). Furthermore along this thought trail, she scorns the celebrations; particularly christmas. In conclusion I thought it possible that she refers to the end of belief (either from universal death or secularisation) which would ultimately result in the demise of such celebrations i.e. ‘themselves should come to me’.
The most poignant part of this poem for me is the change in consciousness the dead soul undergoes. At first s/he wants to jump out of her own funeral procession to rejoin colorful life. Then she tinks about how people will, or perhaps will not, miss her. But finally a year later she turns her thoughts around — from how much she misses life or will be missed by life to how she will welcome other souls as they join her in their shared new existence.
Peyser! Its me Conan! You are makin your kids read Dickinson again, come on Peyeser, do you want me to give you another swirly?!