Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Emily Dickinson: Forget! The Lady with the Amulet


Forget! The lady with the Amulet
Forget she wore it at her Heart
Because she breathed against
Was Treason twixt?

Deny! Did Rose her Bee—
For Privilege of Play
Or Wile of Butterfly
Or Opportunity—Her Lord away?

The lady with the Amulet—will face—
The Bee—in Mausoleum laid—
Discard his Bride—
But longer than the little Rill—
That cooled the Forehead of the Hill—
While Other—went the Sea to fill—
And Other—went to turn the Mill—
I'll do thy Will—

Does an amulet, worn as a charm to protect the wearer from evil, work if the person wearing it is up to no good herself? Does she think the protection of the amulet allows her to pursue immoral acts and be safe from the potential consequences? I think the first stanza of the poem is a warning for whoever the poem is intended to avoid the lady who wears the amulet over her heart because her heart is not true.

The second stanza continues the warning and urges the reader to deny any invitations to join the lady who is devising some scheme to implement behind her "lord" or possibly husband while he is away. I like to translate this stanza as an attractive, alluring lady trying to seduce a young man while her husband is away. It probably isn't, since Dickinson was a very moral, Christian woman, but it's fun to think so.

In the third stanza the speaker goes on to say that the lady "will fade" either her beauty will fade or the memory of her will fade or even the desire to succumb to her charms. The scheme that seems so exciting and tempting now will be gone forever after such a brief, possibly unfulfilling, experience. If her husband discovers the truth, she'll be cast out.

The remaining lines seem to refer to bodies of water, active in different ways for different purposes. Again, I like to think these passing bodies of water refer to past lovers of whoever these words are intended. The final line, "I'll do thy will" is the speaker promising to fulfill the needs of the reader as the former lovers have failed to do and the lady with the amulet falsely promises.

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