On keeping Sabbath

Emily DickinsonToday is the anniversary of Emily Dickinson’s birth in 1830. According to The Writers Almanac, she published fewer than 15 poems during her lifetime. Most of her poems were enclosed in letters or given with gifts. When Dickinson died in 1886, her sister-in-law wrote in an obituary: “Very few in the village, excepting among the older inhabitants, knew Miss Emily personally [but] there are many houses among all classes into which her treasures of fruit and flowers and ambrosial dishes for the sick and well [and presumably her poems] were constantly sent.” Dickinson wrote more than 1,100 poems in all. Here’s one of them, “Some keep the Sabbath going to church.”

Some keep the Sabbath going to church —
I keep it, staying at Home —
With a Bobolink for a Chorister —
And an Orchard, for a Dome —

Some keep the Sabbath in Surplice —
I just wear my Wings —
And instead of tolling the Bell, for Church,
Our little Sexton — sings.

God preaches, a noted Clergyman —
And the sermon is never long,
So instead of getting to Heaven, at last —
I’m going, all along.

She speaks to the saunterer in me.

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