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Emily Dickinson's "Summer for thee, grant I may be"

Emily Dickinson's poems inform my own worldview as a poet and scholar. They dramatize the human spirit via deep attention to life's details.

Emily Dickinson - Commemorative Stamp

Emily Dickinson - Commemorative Stamp

Introduction and Text of "Summer for thee, grant I may be"

Many of Emily Dickinson’s poems prominently feature humble prayers to the Blessèd Creator. As she adored nature’s many sounds and varieties of colors, she sought to feel her connection through the spiritual level of being to all that makes up the created world.

Her favorite season of summer often served as the resplendent muse that allowed her entry into the mystical nature of sound and sight.

Although, on their physical level, those sense-tinged images are beautiful and inspiring, Dickinson created characters to demonstrate the profound awareness that a deeper, even more beautiful and inspiring level of existence could be intuited.

As her speakers approach the ineffable, the language grows more intensely mystical, requiring that special reading that all poetry requires but on an ever deeper level.

Summer for thee, grant I may be

Summer for thee, grant I may be
When Summer days are flown!
Thy music still, when Whipporwill
And Oriole – are done!

For thee to bloom, I'll skip the tomb
And row my blossoms o'er!
Pray gather me –
Anemone –
Thy flower – forevermore!

The Poem in Song

Vincent van Gogh's "Roses and Anemones"

Vincent van Gogh's "Roses and Anemones"

Commentary

Emily Dickinson’s speaker is addressing her Creator, her Heavenly Father (God), praying to retain her special knowledge of musical and visual imagery that have been especially brought into existence for understanding creation through the art of poetry.

First Stanza: Mystical Metaphors

Summer for thee, grant I may be
When Summer days are flown!
Thy music still, when Whippoorwill
And Oriole – are done!

The speaker begins by addressing the Divine Belovèd, imploring the Heavenly Father to allow her continued mystical existence even after the beautiful summer season’s glowing days "are flown!"

The inspiration in which she has reveled is exemplified in the music of the "Whippoorwill" and the "Oriole." Both the music of the bird songs and the warmth and beauty of a summer day are contained in the mere reference in the half line "Thy music still . . . ."

The use of the familiar second person pronouns, thee and thy, hint that the speaker is addressing God; for only God, the Heavenly Reality, the Over-Soul, is close enough to the individual soul to require such a personally familiar pronoun in the Dickinsonian era of common parlance, as well as in that of present day English.

Dickinson’s innate ability to intuit from nature the creative power of the Creator urged the poet in her to build entirely new worlds in which she mentally resided, as her soul overflowed with ever new bliss of knowledge.

Such knowledge did not arrive in pairs of opposites as earthly knowledge does, but rather that state of knowing afforded her direct perception of truth and reality; thus, she employed metaphor as readily as a child employs new and special ways of putting into language concepts he/she has never before encountered.

A useful example of this child-metaphor engagement can be observed when hearing little toddler girl call a hangnail a string.

The toddler who had experienced a hangnail but had no name for it still manages to communicate the reality of the hangnail because she does know the nature of both the finger condition and what a string looks like.

Although Dickinson is communicating well beyond earthly reality, she can produce a metaphor for the ineffable as easily as a child can name a hangnail a string.

Second Stanza: Rowing in Bliss

For thee to bloom, I'll skip the tomb
And row my blossoms o'er!
Pray gather me –
Anemone –
Thy flower – forevermore!

The speaker then offers a very cheeky remark in claiming she will "skip the tomb." But she can do so because she has already just revealed the reason for such an ability.

The Divine Reality has been blossoming in her. She can tout her connection and continued existence through Immortality because she knows her soul is everliving, everlasting, and remains a spark of ever-new power.

The speaker then rows her immortal sea craft—the soul—which blooms eternally like the most beautiful flowers that earth has to offer. But even with such knowledge of such power, she remains humble, praying that the Divine Belovèd continues to "gather [her]" as bouquets of other earthly flowers are gathered.

She then names the beautiful flower which metaphorically represents her blossoming soul, "Anemone," whose musical name as well as variety of colors play in the minds and hearts of readers, as perfect metaphorical representations of the ineffable entity—the ever blissful soul.

The minimalism of the Dickinson canon speaks volumes—more than any voluminous text could do. Such an accomplishment belongs to the wisdom of the ages and to the musing, meditative mind that enters the hallways of reality on the astral and causal levels of existence where artists find their most profound inspiration.

Those who can turn those inspirations into words will always find an audience down through the centuries as long as this plane of earthly existence continues its twirl through space.

Emily Dickinson - This daguerreotype is likely the only extant, authentic image of the poet.

Emily Dickinson - This daguerreotype is likely the only extant, authentic image of the poet.

© 2020 Linda Sue Grimes

Comments

Linda Sue Grimes (author) from U.S.A. on July 08, 2020:

Thank you, Ivana, for your response. You are correct; Dickinson's style and subject focus both render her unique among poets of all ages. She can reveal more profundities in one line than many can muster in their entire collections. There is much to learn from her wide knowledge base as well. She was a deep thinker, whose feelings ran deep, and she possessed the intellect to express her thoughts and feelings in well-crafted little dramas. She, indeed, created her own little world in her poems.

Ivana Divac from Serbia on July 08, 2020:

Dickinson’s poems are one of a kind. This was a very interesting read!

Linda Sue Grimes (author) from U.S.A. on July 05, 2020:

Nice hearing from you, Louise! Yes, Dickinson’s poems are the best. Always worth spending time with.

Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on July 04, 2020:

I've always enjoyed reading her poems.