“I Started Early- Took My Dog-“

If you Google Emily Dickinson and ocean poems, #656 is the first search result you will get. In it, she goes on a walk with her dog to the sea. Although Emily did travel outside of Amherst during a few years of her life, by all accounts, records, and letters left behind, she never actually saw the sea. Emily did have a beloved Newfoundland named Carlo though, presented to her by her father in 1849. Her devoted and constant companion, Carlo would die in 1866 and leave Emily feeling adrift.

Although far from well-traveled and being known for her reclusive nature, Emily’s imagination and knowledge allowed her to go many places in her mind. One Hundred and thirty-two years after the first posthumous publication of her work, we are lucky to go along with her as we read her words and continue to be delighted and mystified by them.

I do live near the sea and go often. It has always been “my place”. The following is what came to me yesterday as I sat with paper and pen and watched the tide come to kiss the shore.





“To Put This World Down Like A Bundle”

Emily Dickinson wrote quite a lot about religion, death, grief and existing outside of the commonly accepted lines of her time. In poem #527 all four of these topics appear as she talks of renouncing the world and references Jesus’ renunciation and consequent agony and crucifixion.

Then, as now, life can be overwhelming and hard and we just need to put the burden bundle down for a bit, close the door on it (or open another). Being on the ocean and especially far from land has always been the salve I need. It’s there that I go off the grid, leave technology behind and imagine myself as one with the sea, powerful, full of wonders, and with endless horizons. I long to be there now, landlocked as I have been by the pandemic woes of this past almost 2 years.

This too shall pass, this I know. And when it does, I will “put this world down like a bundle” for a time and cruise away.

Seafoam Memories

Certain places hold sensory and muscle memories, and bring special moments back to mind. The shore and ocean do that for me. As the tides move in and out twice each day, they bring forth and take away, reminding us that life does the same. Today, the first line of Emily’s poem #86 and the South winds blew the briny air and sent seafoam and memories of a past love, dancing across the sand and through my mind.