Thursday, July 29, 2010
~~~Emily Dickinson~~~"She slept beneath a tree —" 25/1775
She slept beneath a tree —
Remembered but by me.
I touched her Cradle mute —
She recognized the foot —
Put on her carmine suit
Today's poem by Emily Dickinson is short and sweet. Innocent. Pure. Like some friends I know, probably like you! Emily is venturing into another dreamscape; a land of magic and sublime enchantment.
In Emily's world today we see Emily looking at a "She" who "Slept beneath a tree". Right away I think of a cat. "Remembered by me" This line seems reflective, like a memory, is Emily dreaming of her "dream child" thinking, hoping, dreaming of the time she was to wed? In her last poem we see this "maids" and "men" in foreign lands and I have to wonder if Emily felt somehow the "subtle put-down" thus the "Cradle mute". She can not hear her dear baby girl's cry or the baby girl cannot be heard.
"She recognized the foot" Can be multi-meaning seeing that Emily has often discussed the foot in a way that is liken to a "frozen foot" in the pinion (see wagon wheel icon with the old photo of kids with 2 wagon wheels the emblem of Katherine, a martyred saint). So we can interpret or extrapolate many things here, but if we study Emily previous poems, and after, her poems to come we may realize the significance of these elusive statements and images.
Emily is dreaming here. The images are surreal. The images are usually full of angst from unresolved day time issues; aka "unfinished business". Emily is dreaming of her dream baby. Or maybe she is taking about a kitten she had placed under the tree the night before to sleep outside. Or maybe it is Emily herself since the "She" could be her and she is seeing herself and using a most unusual the third person narrative;
"Third-person narration provides the greatest flexibility to the author and thus is the most commonly used narrative mode in literature. In the third-person narrative mode, each and every character is referred to by the narrator as "he", "she", "it", or "they", but never as "I" or "we" (first-person), or "you" (second-person).
"The third-person modes are usually categorized along two axes. The first is the subjectivity/objectivity axis, with "subjective" narration describing one or more character's feelings and thoughts, while "objective" narration does not describe the feelings or thoughts of any characters. The second axis is between "omniscient" and "limited", a distinction that refers to the knowledge available to the narrator. An omniscient narrator has omniscient knowledge of time, people, places and events; a limited narrator, in contrast, may know absolutely everything about a single character and every piece of knowledge in that character's mind, but it is "limited" to that character—that is, it cannot describe things unknown to the focal character."
Excuse the long preamble, but I thought it important to refresh the memory regarding the various forms of narration. It can get complicated and is very complicated in Emily's poem "She slept beneath a tree". Moving in and out of various forms of narration. As if Emily is both narrator and all the characters in her poem.
There is no response from the other character; and the character "she" is muted in Emily's mind. She is confused as to persons individual entity; a separation of individualization. In this way, Emily is showing a bit of her cosmic consciousness and I am not sure if she, if Emily, at this time is involved in the reading and philosophy of the Transcendental writers of her day, like Emerson and others.
So her is the conundrum; what am I to understand from this somewhat "sketchy" poem. It is an experiment? Before surrealism? This is indeed a modern experiment! Emily is pre-Freud trying to grasp the concept of the dream state! Heavy stuff for a young lady from Amherst MA in the later part of the 1800's. How I'd love to get these poems date-stamped so I can see when exactly, in Emily's development did these poems occur, and what were the direct influences on Emily at that particular time. Of course much research is needed her before I can hazard to guess, but I will continue to decipher Emily's poems in the way I have been taught, to reconstruct the work after deconstructing it. Something akin to Russian Constructivism? Perhaps?
"I touched her Cradle mute —
She recognized the foot —
Put on her carmine suit
"I touched her Cradle mute (notice the capital C for cradle? An allegory? Is everything, almost a allegory to Ms Em? One has to wonder... The "I touched" is significant, very significant. Emily must have dream power of the hands in her dreams which means she can control her dreams. This may have been taught to her by some of the natives in her area. I see that she has an understanding of this. By "touching "her Cradle mute" Well a cradle for a hope a dream of a future with someone, to have children and now she realizes this will not happen, the cradle is "deaf" or not with sound so I would think this may imply a death to this dream she had been nursing for awhile in her hope chest of heart.
I believe Emily notived the same foot on her dream child as her own which may be mishappen or peronalized to some degree from being frozen, maybe she had a foot problem or Emily sees foot as a weekness or as a strength as Emily then mentions "Put on her carmine suit" which may be a significant colour "red" of which Emily has so frequently mentioned in the past and is a significant personal lexicon of imagery which Emily conveys to be representative of a feeling. In my mind anyway, it is a spiritual feeling, the regal robes of the shed blood or if you are not inclined to the Christ motifs that play a significant role in Emily's poems then you could say the red represents life blood and the life of Emily's, and the spiritual significance to Emily is deeply personal and may not perhaps be fully understood unless a significant spiritual awaken would happen in the reader or a transcendental experience.
"She recognized the foot" for me this would be the foot of sandalled one. And maybe yes or no Emily does emphathize with the tortured individual as she has been tortured. I sense great sadness in this poem, that Emily's dreams are dead, that the shed red blood is her coat of armour put on to handle this mantle she must bear; of the truth she must become but does not want to, but now who's dreams is inhabiting, and invading her sweet world of a day ago. Emily is indeed haunted here. By her religious uptight raising or by being shunned by a suitor. This is a worrisome dream. "The Cradle is mute". Yet at the end the strength is back with the brilliant red carmine. Could Carmine be a name of a friend of Emily? Or a made up friend to strengthen Emily against what must have been very tough times indeed. Everyone she loved was dying around her. We will investigate this as we gain more information.
Emily's work has significant and undeniable Christian overtones and undertones. Her it is muted and undertone. Emily does not come right out and say "Christ" or "Jesus" but it is implied most definitely. I think Emily wanted to show a personal relationship that goes into imagery rather than surface level. Emily is deeply spiritual but not as much claiming her religious Christian religion her. Which makes it an open type of spiritual kinship for all religions. Emily is maybe deliberately doing this as she is studying world religions, etc and wants to be inclusive.
Carmine definition;Carmine (pronounced /ˈkɑrmɪn/ or /ˈkɑrmaɪn/), also called Crimson Lake, Cochineal, Natural Red 4, C.I. 75470, or E120, is a pigment of a bright red color obtained from the carminic acid produced by some scale insects, such as the cochineal and the Polish cochineal, and is used as a general term for a particularly deep red color of the same name. Carmine is used in the manufacture of artificial flowers, paints, crimson ink, rouge, and other cosmetics, and is routinely added to food products such as yogurt and certain brands of juice, most notably those of the ruby-red variety."
Definitely the imagery recurs in Emily's poems. It is significant. With further reading of Emily's poems we may (if we are lucky) begin to form an understanding as to the deeply spiritual meaning in her poems. It should be a great adventure!
Chiccoreal On "She slept beneath a tree"
When in Third Person
You see yourself
From a distance
who cannot peep
to say why you cry
And put on Your Spirit
Clothed in Brillance