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Saturday, September 3, 2011

If you were coming in the Fall

(Dream by Henri Matisse, 1869-1954, French
printmaker, painter, and sculptor)

Yesterday we discussed that most useful of rhetorical devices, the hypothetical, for the writing of songs and poems about love.

In this poem, Emily Dickinson also ponders the many possibilities.

If you were coming in the Fall,
I’d brush the Summer by
With half a smile, and half a spurn,
As Housewives do, a Fly.

If I could see you in a year
I’d wind the months in balls —
And put them each in separate drawers
Until their time befalls —

If only Centuries, delayed,
I’d count them on my Hand,
Subtracting, till my fingers dropped
Into Van Diemen’s Land*.

If certain, when this life was out —
That yours and mine, should be
I’d toss it yonder, like a Rind,
And take Eternity —

But now, all ignorant of the length
Of time’s uncertain wing,
It goads me, like the Goblin Bee —
That will not state — its sting.

~ Emily Dickinson (1830-1886), American poet

* Van Diemen’s Land – Tasmania, a part of Australia; in the early 19th-century it served as a penal colony for thousands of prisoners transported there from Great Britain

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