The feet of people walking home
With gayer sandals go—
The Crocus— til she rises
The Vassal of the snow—
The lips at Hallelujah
Long years of practise bore
Til bye and bye these Bargemen
Walked singing on the shore.
Pearls are the Diver’s farthings
Extorted from the Sea—
Pinions— the Seraph’s wagon
Pedestrian once— as we—
Night is the morning’s Canvas
Death, but our rapt attention
My figures fail to tell me
How far the Village lies—
Whose peasants are the Angels—
Whose Cantons dot the skies—
My Classics veil their faces—
My faith that Dark adores—
Which from its solemn abbeys
Such resurrection pours.
One of the benefits of being a book nerd with a child in college is that I get to acquire used books from completed courses. This is the case with a collection of Emily Dickinson poems. I was happy when my daughter gave me this book, since reading more Dickinson was something I wanted to do. The book does not include everything that she wrote, but it is a good collection of selected poems, so I figured I’d start with the first one in the book.
I really love the metaphors in this poem, which for me deals with rebirth and resurrection. “The feet of people walking home” conjures an image of souls slowly making the pilgrimage back to the divine source. Dickinson immediately follows that image with a reference to the Crocus. I have crocuses around my house, so I get this symbol. They are the first flowers to bloom after the cold death of winter. I have taken pictures of these vibrant yellow and purple flowers as they burst through the hardened earth. For me, they are the harbingers of spring, the promise of rebirth. Every year, when I see the crocuses bloom in my yard, I know that spring is near.
In the second stanza, there is a reference to a diver collecting pearls from the sea. For me, this is probably the most complex of the metaphors in this poem, because it can mean multiple things. The pearls could symbolize spiritual insights collected during one’s lifetime, which become useful in the transitional period after death. They can also be deeds of kindness. Since the sea is a common metaphor for the subconscious mind, then the pearls could be those gems of ineffable wisdom acquired during states of heightened awareness. Finally, the pearls could be poems, collected from the sea of life’s experiences and suffering.
As I look out my window and see dawn coloring the sky outside, the line “Night is the morning’s Canvas” deeply resonates. As soon as I read this line, I could visualize streaks of pastel color forming on the dark background of the sky. Dawn is such a powerful symbol of rebirth, and one that occurs every day. It is our daily reminder that life begins anew each time we arise. As we get caught up in our lives, it’s easy to forget that each day is essentially a small resurrection, an opportunity to start a new life.
Thanks for taking the time to read my thoughts, and I hope you have a blessed day!
7 responses to “Poem #7: “The feet of people walking home” by Emily Dickinson”
Such a beautiful and cryptic poem, Jeff. I keep reading and wondering. Maybe it is better not to understand everything, but I agree with your suggestions.
Hi Monika. I totally agree. I read it twice and kept thinking there is more that I am missing, but I figured I would at least share my initial impressions.
Your analysis is so touching, sigh!…. I also love the metaphors in this poem, related to rebirth and resurrection, as you highlighted. the symbolism of the Crocus is eloquent… *i.e the first flowers to bloom after the cold death of winter… I would never look at them with the same eyes.
Thanks so much, dear Jeff!. All my best wishes. Aquileana 🌟🌟🐱 –
Awwww. Thank you so much! It means a lot to me that you liked the poem as much as I did and that you felt my post did it justice. I have to say I am looking forward to reading more of Miss Emily’s poetry. Expect more posts soon 😉
All the best,
Your friend, Jeff
I am looking foraward to your upcoming posts, my friend… Thanks so much! … Best wishes, always. Aquileana! 🌟★🌟
I don’t think I had read this one before!
Did you like it as much as I did?