Emily Dickinson, Social Distancing & the Empath

Maybe it’s because I am an English teacher…maybe because I love to memorize things–who knows–but today I woke up with this in my head:

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.

-Emily Dickinson

Fun Fact- The vast majority of Emily’s poems were published after her death (posthumously for the SAT enthusiasts).

Emily lived in almost complete, self-imposed isolation for much of her life. She felt surrounded by death and distant from the religious succor of her society. She felt alone and perhaps felt the sadness of others a little too deeply to stay physically close.

Despite this, she composed the above poem, and its lyrical optimism perches in the seat of my soul as I write this.

Over six thousand people died on April 14th. Two thousand more followed the next day and the next. The death toll in this country continues to mount as people take to the streets to rail against the very rules that were put in place to save us. The world around me is frightening and uncertain.

But Hope does perch in my mind. Its tiny wings spread out across the expanse and promise to be ceaseless.

“I’ve heard it on the chillest land-and on the strangest Sea”

This is certainly the strangest sea I have ever seen, and our navigation through these waters is better served by the weight of this Hope in our souls.

Love, Light, and Hope

Photo by Flo Maderebner on Pexels.com