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View Full Version : Rate-a-Poem: I measure every Grief I meet



William Haskins
01-22-2006, 01:28 AM
by Emily Dickinson (http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/155)
(1830 - 1886)

I measure every Grief I meet

I measure every Grief I meet
With narrow, probing, Eyes
I wonder if It weighs like Mine
Or has an Easier size.

I wonder if They bore it long
Or did it just begin
I could not tell the Date of Mine
It feels so old a pain

I wonder if it hurts to live
And if They have to try
And whether could They choose between
It would not be to die

I note that Some gone patient long
At length, renew their smile
An imitation of a Light
That has so little Oil

I wonder if when Years have piled
Some Thousands on the Harm
That hurt them early such a lapse
Could give them any Balm

Or would they go on aching still
Through Centuries of Nerve
Enlightened to a larger Pain
In Contrast with the Love

The Grieved are many I am told
There is the various Cause
Death is but one and comes but once
And only nails the eyes

There's Grief of Want and grief of Cold
A sort they call "Despair"
There's Banishment from native Eyes
In Sight of Native Air

And though I may not guess the kind
Correctly yet to me
A piercing Comfort it affords
In passing Calvary

To note the fashions of the Cross
And how they're mostly worn
Still fascinated to presume
That Some are like My Own

Paint
01-22-2006, 02:24 AM
Ohh that last verse! A masterpiece! The caps and dashes are a bother. Were the caps,dashes, a breakthrough in style from Dickinson?

brokenfingers
01-22-2006, 05:06 PM
I've gotta say that I found the dashes distracted from the piece for me also. For me, punctuation is important in many poems because they help guide the reader's eye down the right path of the poet's thoughts.

In this poem, they were like false herrings. In my mind, a dash usually denotes that the following thought is an extension or an amplification of the preceding statement.

With the way she has them presented, my mind automatically flowed in a certain cadence but was continually interrupted and, in the end, it inhibited my enjoyment of the poem.

mommie4a
01-22-2006, 05:41 PM
I liked the dashes etc. because I can hear her pausing, thinking, wondering, collating her thoughts about the topic, which is so open-ended.

Thanks. I'll have to read it several more times.

mkcbunny
01-22-2006, 10:26 PM
What Paint and brokenfingers said. I gave it a 4.

Cassie88
01-23-2006, 02:35 AM
What Jill said... I gave it a five. I've never read that one and it killled me. It's a theme I've wanted to write about for a long time, but never knew even how to begin. Wow.

Shwebb
01-23-2006, 02:45 AM
I liked it a lot. IMO the capitalizations and some of the dashes are distracting, though.

Like Jill, I'll be reading over this one and contemplating it more. It grabbed me from the very first line and held me to the end.

poetinahat
01-23-2006, 03:08 AM
I thought, at first, that the dashes would distract. Then, the assonances bothered me.

But, by the middle, I felt that they helped convey the author's desperation. The dashes, to me, sounded like the halting, gasping speech of one who's still sobbing and can only get the words out in bursts between convulsive wails.

The assonances, to me, gave the effect of a chord slightly off: they created a tension that heightened the sense of discomfort, of unease. The sort of effect that Thelonious Monk got by hitting a 'wrong key'.

It's an extremely personal work. I'm not sure whether I identify with it, or I just want to, because the despair is so sublime. (The Smiths at their height did the same to me -- made me wish I really were that miserable.)

Excellent.

mkcbunny
01-23-2006, 03:30 AM
I'm not sure whether I identify with it, or I just want to, because the despair is so sublime. (The Smiths at their height did the same to me -- made me wish I really were that miserable.)

That's a funny observation and so true, the idea of wanting to be unhappy because an artist is so good at conveying the depth of that pain, because you want to experience emotions as fully.

Ralyks
01-23-2006, 08:58 PM
I liked this poem quite a bit, and I gave it a 4, but I have always felt that something is just slightly "off", sound-wise, in Dickinson's poetry. I can't put my finger on it, but it never flows very smoothly for me. Nonetheless, there is so much more redeeming in it, that I went with 4.

louisgodwin
01-24-2006, 12:32 PM
...but I have always felt that something is just slightly "off", sound-wise, in Dickinson's poetry. I can't put my finger on it, but it never flows very smoothly for me.

Yes, Dickinson is famous for this. She was a great poet, just not a great rhymer. What I've noticed from reading many of her poems is that she didn't seem to understand that in order to make one line rhyme with another line, that the 2 lines must have approximately the same number of syllables.

oneovu
01-25-2006, 08:16 PM
I gave this three stars after one read, maybe because what was said moved me more than how it was said. But, after the fourth read, I wish I could change it to four stars.


I found the title most intriguing.


Whether this is correct in actual meaning or not, the poem stirred strong feelings of curiosity and self-discovery by proxy.

Shwebb
01-25-2006, 08:44 PM
One thing I like about this poem is that it makes me picture someone having an internal dialogue while they are interacting with others.

I'm sure that no one in Emily Dickinson's time ever spoke much about their "crosses" they bore, and yet she was able to see them during what, I'd bet, were superficial interactions and conversations.

Pat~
02-09-2006, 08:40 PM
I know I'm rather late with this (just now getting around to rating some of the poems), but I give this one a 4.5. I don't always comprehend a lot of her poetry, but this one hit a resounding chord with me when I was really depressed 6 years ago and not much else was getting through.

WondersWithin
01-22-2017, 09:34 PM
I love Emily Dickinson in general, but this is not one of my favorites. I seem to trip over the words a bit and prefer a smoother flow.