Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Dickinson: "Pink, Lank and Warm"

How could I have overlooked this Emily Dickinson poem until now?  She calls it a dream poem. We'll be talking about Dickinson at the next meeting of my readers group.  I like the crisp, polite voice of this poem--the difference between her well-mannered diction and the creepy, horrifying subject.  "String" is good, too.  "Pink, lank and warm": almost unbearably sensitive. A merely Freudian interpretation would not do the poem justice.   

In Winter in my Room
I came upon a Worm --
Pink, lank and warm --
But as he was a worm
And worms presume
Not quite with him at home --
Secured him by a string
To something neighboring
And went along.

A Trifle afterward
A thing occurred
I'd not believe it if I heard
But state with creeping blood --
A snake with mottles rare
Surveyed my chamber floor
In feature as the worm before
But ringed with power --

The very string with which
I tied him -- too
When he was mean and new
That string was there --

I shrank -- "How fair you are"!
Propitiation's claw --
"Afraid," he hissed
"Of me"?
"No cordiality" --
He fathomed me --
Then to a Rhythm Slim
Secreted in his Form
As Patterns swim
Projected him.

That time I flew
Both eyes his way
Lest he pursue
Nor ever ceased to run
Till in a distant Town
Towns on from mine
I set me down
This was a dream.


  1. Oh my heavens I had forgotten this. I'd love to eavesdrop on your reading group when this is discussed. I am so tired of Emily White and Pure. Let's let her wake up.

  2. Rebecca, hello! Isn't it quite a poem, intelligent and creepy. I'll try to post on the readers' responses.