"The difference between Despair
And Fear – is like the One
Between the instant of a Wreck –
And when the Wreck has been –
The Mind is smooth – no motion –
Contented as the Eyes
Upon the Forehead of a Bust –
That knows – it cannot see. -"
- a poem by Emily Dickinson, sometimes given the title The Difference
Dickinson knew what she called her ‘waylaying Light’ was unwelcome to organized religion, alarming to the pious. “When Jesus tells us about his father, we distrust him. When he shows us his Home, we turn away, but when he confides to us that he is ‘acquainted with Grief,’ we listen, for that is also an Acquaintance of our own.” This from one who defined herself as wicked while still a girl; she knew herself to be bold and incorrigibly open hearted. To this day, people fret over whether Dickinson was religious, even whether she was a moral person. Her ideas were, and still are, radical. Those dashes, so characteristic of Dickinson's work, are like signposts that point toward the future. Like the tides, never static. And now we are able to read her poems as written by her own hand.
For further reading: The Gorgeous Nothings, a facsimile edition of her manuscripts by Emily Dickinson, New York, New Directions: 2013.
Beatrice S.Levy - The Derelict, 1914, Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Washington, D.C.