‘merican Mystics: Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

[A simple definition of a mystic is one who seeks to experience God or the Transcendent.  Many of the greatest mystics have shared some of those experiences through poetry.  This is one a series of posts to share a spiritual poem and several quotations that have to do with some of the great themes of mystical writers and saints.  Emily Dickinson and Carl Sandburg are just two of what I call ‘merican Mystics.  Like the Bible and countless poets and mystics before her, the poet speaks of meeting God in nature. Your suggestions about other ‘merican Mystics are most welcome.]

Some Keep the Sabbath Going to Church

“Some keep the Sabbath going to Church —
I keep it, staying at Home —
With a Bobolink for a Chorister —
And an Orchard, for a Dome —

Some keep the Sabbath in Surplice —
I just wear my Wings —
And instead of tolling the Bell, for Church,
Our little Sexton — sings.

God preaches, a noted Clergyman —
And the sermon is never long,
So instead of getting to Heaven, at last —
I’m going, all along.”

Behavior is what a man does,
not what he thinks, feels, or believes.

Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me.

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain:
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul – and sings the tunes without the words – and never stops at all.

Saying nothing sometimes says the most.

The soul should always stand ajar,
ready to welcome the ecstatic experience.

Not knowing when the dawn will come, I open every door.

[This image is in the public domain because its copyright has expired and can be found on Wikkimedia Commons.]

[BOOKS: http://www.amazon.com/Emily-Dickinson/e/B000APVZCC/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_5?qid=1328101784&sr=8-5%5D


About Paul Wharton

I am a cradle Catholic, a native West Virginian, and a priest since April 24, 1982. Spiritual Direction has made a tremendous difference in my life and I encourage people to try it out. My motto is "Progress not perfection." I am grateful that God has done for me what I could not do for myself.
This entry was posted in Quotations, Songs and Poetry. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to ‘merican Mystics: Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

  1. Denise says:

    This has many layers of meaning for me. I am certain that others will find inspiration in other ways. What a remarkable person she was!

  2. Kelly Rose says:

    Did Emily Dickinson live in West Virginia? She must have? 🙂

  3. Kelly Rose says:

    Oh dang! WordPress uses the smiley face. I don’t really like the smiley face, I like the old fashioned (sidewaysmile:) better than emoticons? And when I type in the sideway smiley face and the program turns it into an emoticon, I feel violated(sillygrin:)

  4. Kelly Rose says:

    Well, he’s not an American, but he’s a poet of the first rank!

    • Donna Musgrave says:

      I feel the same way about singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen, Kelly. He’s Canadian but also a poet of the first rank…and a true mystic (not to mention 77 years old and still touring)!

      As for my favorite ‘merican Mystics…I’d have to vote for Henry David Thoreau and his mentor, Ralph Waldo Emerson. Like Emily Dickenson, they were able to find God (and themselves) in simplicity, solitude, and nature. So many of the words of wisdom we see on today’s artwork, jewelry and websites are quotes that can be attributed to these two poets/essayists. This phenomenon can probably be attributed to their ability to squeeze more wisdom into a single sentence that most writers can express in volumes.

  5. Kelly Rose says:

    I love this blog(grin:)!

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