A little East of Jordan,
Evangelists record,
A Gymnast and an Angel
Did wrestle long and hard —

Till morning touching mountain —
And Jacob, waxing strong,
The Angel begged permission
To Breakfast — to return —

Not so, said cunning Jacob!
“I will not let thee go
Except thou bless me” — Stranger!
The which acceded to —

Light swung the silver fleeces
“Peniel” Hills beyond,
And the bewildered Gymnast
Found he had worsted God!

Analysis, meaning and summary of Emily Dickinson's poem A little East of Jordan,

1 Comment

  1. Mari Smith says:

    This poem has more references to the Bible than one might think at first. It took a while for me to understand it, but here’s what I get:
    It is the retelling of the story where Jacob wrestled with an Angel. They continued all night until morning, at which point, with Jacob in the lead, the Angel begged to leave. Jacob responded by saying, “I will not let thee go/ Except thou bless me”. Line 13 reads “Light swung the silver fleeces.” This is a reference to Gideon, also of the Bible. In his story, Gideon thought he heard God, but wanted proof. He put a fleece outside and asked God, if it were him, to miraculously have the fleece wet but the surrounding ground dry. It was done, but as more proof, Gideon asked for the opposite to be done the next morning, and it was. So basically, that line infers proof of God and his exsistence. “‘Peniel’ Hills beyond” (Line 14) somehow implies that Jacob saw the ANgel in the distance (“Peniel” is the name of an angel). SInce the Angel was far away, Jacob realized that he had actually been wrestling with God!

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