For the love of Emily (again) : a few thoughts on ‘What mystery pervades a well…’
This is our well back home; so much like Emily’s well…still, glassy, calm!
What mystery pervades a well!
That water lives so far –
A neighbor from another world
Residing in a jar
Whose limit none has ever seen,
But just his lid of glass –
Like looking every time you please
In an abyss’s face!
The grass does not appear afraid,
I often wonder he
Can stand so close and look so bold
At what is awe to me.
Related somehow they may be,
The sedge stands near the sea –
Where he is floorless
And does no timidity betray
But nature is a stranger yet:
The ones that cite her most
Have never passed her haunted house,
Nor simplified her ghost.
To pity those that know her not
Is helped by the regret
That those who know her, know her less
The nearer her they get. ~Emily Dickinson
A neighbour who resides in a jar! Who else (but Dickinson) could have imagined Water in a well as a neighbour! Here’s a mild reminder and warning that this neighbour from another world is not as simple a neighbour as you think. He is apparently a man with a calm and composed countenance, but below that ‘lid of glass’ he may be fathomless! So beware of him.
Looking at the Well’s face is like looking at an abyss that demands awe. The poet warns us not to plunge into the well attracted by the superficial calm. To her surprise the slender and weak looking grass has the courage to stand so close to this neighbour and ‘look so bold’ at ‘what is awe to her’! The grass is somewhat similar to the sedge that grows near the ‘floorless’ sea.
Nature is still a stranger, says Emily. Nobody has understood the complexities of mother Nature.Those who boast that they know her have never encountered her complex face, and those who know her and love her better (like the poet) realise as they get closer to Her that their knowledge is insufficient.
The well at Anakkara
In resplendent colours Dickinson has painted Nature in her poems. She has personified Nature and all that’s Nature’s. Her matchless imagery and aphorism surprise us! Myriad things under the sun ranging from sunsets, sunrises, birds, insects and simple joys of life danced on her palette and this artist par excellence transformed them all to richly coloured, vibrant paintings. The mysterious ‘well’ here is full of conflicting images of Nature. Mother Nature is both benevolent and intimidating. This one is all paradoxes, pathos, oxymorons and awe inspiring images. To me this evoked images of the sacred river Alph that flows to the sunless sea in Kubla Khan’s Xanadu; haunting, gothic!