Emily Dickinson and the Linnet

linnet
 Flickr – maom_1 (Off, most of the time)

On 15 May 1886, after two and a half years of ill health, Emily Dickinson died, at the age of 55, of kidney disease in Amherst, Massachusetts.
Her obituary for the Springfield Republican ended with the first four lines from one of her poems: “Morns like these, we parted.

Morns like these – we parted.
Noons like these – she rose
Fluttering first – then firmer –
To her fair repose.

Never did she lisp it –
And ’twas not for me –
She was mute from transport –
I – from agony –

Till – the evening nearing –
One the Curtains drew –
Quick! A sharper rustling!
And this Linnet flew!

Dickinson describes the death of a woman that took place in an ordinary morning.
In the afternoon she was ready to go “to her fair repose.” She never lost composure, never talked about her approaching death. She was “mute” in a state of “transport,” which may refer both to her transportation and to an overwhelmingly strong emotion. The poet was silent, as well, distressed to watch the woman die.
Later in the day, her spirit departed, “rustling” the drawn curtains, like a caged bird finally able to fly in the freedom of the open skies.

A linnet is a small, slim finch, which was a popular pet in the late Victorian and Edwardian eras as a cage bird because of its melodious singing.

In mattine come queste – ci separammo –
In pomeriggi come questi – lei si levò –
Dapprima con un battito d’ali – poi più sicura
Verso il giusto riposo

Mai ne parlò–
Non era cosa per me –
Lei – era muta nell’elevazione –
Io – nell’angoscia –

Finché – sul far della sera
Qualcuno tirò le tende –
Presto! Un fruscio più forte
E quel fringuello volò via!

(L.Z.)

31 thoughts on “Emily Dickinson and the Linnet

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