Tuesday, October 5, 2010

~~~A POEM A DAY~~~EMILY DICKINSON~~~I robbed the Woods —41/1775

I robbed the Woods —
The trusting Woods.
The unsuspecting Trees
Brought out their Burs and mosses
My fantasy to please.
I scanned their trinkets curious — I grasped — I bore away —
What will the solemn Hemlock —
What will the Oak tree say?

Emily Dickinson


Dear fans of Emily Dickinson: This poem does seem to me to be a bit of an original twist on Emily's regular offerings. First of all, Emily is being quite coy and acting a part here. Emily is playing the role of the "robber" as "I robbed the Woods - not often are poems opening line states "I" or "robbed" in the same sentence, but apparently it did here.

This refreshing tale is quite humorous and funny! Imagine that Emily "brought out their Burs and mosses"; burs undoubtedly on her clothing and mosses on her shoes or boots. One has to wonder whether or not Emily is considering the idea of conservation
talking about taking "trinkets", nonetheless she seems to be acting in quite a guilty fashion in this poem. Emily being a trained botanist, there may be something to this. I wonder if Emily were ever in touched base with John Muir the founder of the Sierra Club, a pioneer ecologist and Father of the US National Parks; see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Muir. This is wholly debatable.

The fact that Emily is doing something horribly wrong in this poem is quite in evidence here. Very funny, humorous too, in the fact that the "Solemn hemlock" and the "Oak tree" would take offence in the first place, and secondly that these two types of vegetation are poisonous. Definitely, one would not want to offend a tree that could is some way, perchance, lash out with poisonous wrath! This would be to frightful to even consider! One has to wonder why Emily stated "Solemn" hemlock? Maybe due to the fact that most who partake of its wares are often officiated by solemn procession. Maybe? Me thinks there is something else to learn, something is in the "works", a hidden passage-way? Much deliberate elusiveness here!

"My fantasy to please"

This is exactly what Emily is doing in this poem, creating a fantasy! And it pleases her! Why? What satisfaction could she possibly get from "Burr" (notice the capital letter here?) or "moss"? I have to wonder who are these people or what exactly is the meaning here? Maybe a political satire? Please see the last paragraph (below) for further postulations!

So Emily is reflecting in the poem her wish to fantasize about nature and create the woods to have a soul, and energy. Perhaps. Emily could have been studying Native Americans to have considered this concept of the spirit of plant life. In fact, there is evidence that Emily did study contemporary writers who wrote about the sociological, anthropological and current events of the Native Americans who's religion did conceive of plants having a spiritual consciousness. Considering this, this idea does add further dimension to the transcendental effect in Emily Dickinson's poems.

Emily's botany training is in evidence here;

"I scanned their trinkets curious — I grasped — I bore away —"

The length of this line is also much longer than previous poems, there is a curious word usage here; "grasped" and "bore", suggesting the atypical proding action a botanist would use to classify various plants in dissection.

Does Emily suggest that plants have a consciousness? At the very least, the concern of Miss Emily's for plants has an obvious literary technique known in the trade as personification. Miss Emily has given human characterization, such as the human foible of revenge to the various plants of her much loved woods of Amherst, Massachusetts.

A poem that can appear "simple" has many layers of details, much like a quilt or needlework. This takes a great deal of talent and skill to dispense seemingly beign words in this manner. Does Miss Emily have a secret language? A idiosynchronistic way of portraying layers of meaning, and for what purpose. This takes a great deal of intellect. Bravo Miss Emily!

Is there a reference to Aaron Burr here? One must wonder and be full of curious fantasy! Purely supposition you say and with much superstition? Yes, but, there has been the Aaron Burr reference alluded to in previous poems! "Unsuspecting trees"? Symbolic and biting if not poisonous Satire? Has there been such a woman before, to speak in a covert political way? Is Emily part of a political underground? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aaron_Burr


Chiccoreal's Conceptualization of Miss Emily Dickinson's poem "I robbed the Woods"

Yo, I ripped off the woods today
Nobody noticed
the many burrs and moss
on my pleated woolen skirt
on my thick-leather boot
My what curiousity and fantasy to enjoy
lovely samples; whilst I wondered, poked and prodded
Suddenly thought I -
What will Hemlock do?
What will Oak do?
seeming both so solemnly inclined
to do what?
poison me?
Hopefully not - no
not such cruel treachery
not for the likes of little ol' me!


Socrates takes poisonous hemlock (not sure if the actual trees are poisonous, but definitely the plant is poisonous! and certainly that creature carved into the wood looks very toxic!)

Yes this quilt IS from the Civil War era (coincidence? synchronicity?)


  1. Maybe there was a family living nearby and their surname was Woods (Tiger's ancestors) and Emily Dickinson broke into their house and robbed them blind?
    Or maybe not...

  2. Yes you hit the nail on the head! Really, who's to say now the old gal is quite dead? Not talking me either you know! This opens up a lot of possiblities unless some Emily expert would dispute by way of authentic evidence to the contrary! Dont you just love supposition! It opens up the world of anything goes possibility! And we certainly need that today! (like a hole in the old dead head oak tree!)No wonder people kill these trees - they kill us, but disclaimer here I AM NOT ADVOCATING KILLING trees because they are poisonous, just the mushrooms!)

  3. very interesting.. glad you shared this one.. xx