Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Wife

I've been pondering the following poem by Emily Dickinson but am still not sure exactly what to make of it. It is interesting that the unspoken sense of loss in stanza 2 produces pearls AND weeds in stanza 3. Who is "himself" in the last stanza? I assumed the husband, but it isn't made clear. Is this a tribute to wives and the marriage relationship or a critique of those things? What do you think?

The Wife

She rose to his requirement, dropped
The playthings of her life
To take the honorable work
Of woman and of wife.

If aught she missed in her new day
Of amplitude, or awe,
Or first prospective, or the gold
In using wore away,

It lay unmentioned, as the sea
Develops pearl and weed,
But only to himself is known
The fathoms they abide.

"The Wife" by Emily Dickinson. Found in Favorite Poems of Emily Dickinson published 1978 by Avenel Books.

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