The Grass So Little Has To Do…



The Grass so little has to do –
A Sphere of simple Green –
With only Butterflies to brood
And Bees to entertain –
And stir all day to pretty Tunes
The Breezes fetch along –
And hold the Sunshine in its lap
And bow to everything –

And thread the Dews, all night, like Pearls –
And make itself so fine
A Duchess were too common
For such a noticing –

And even when it dies – to pass
In Odors so divine –
Like Lowly spices, lain to sleep –
Or Spikenards, perishing –

And then, in Sovereign Barns to dwell –
And dream the Days away,
The Grass so little has to do
I wish I were a Hay –

Emily Dickinson


Here’s a feather-light one from Emily, a fascinating poem on the lowly, insignificant and simple grass. She can weave her magic with the simplest things on earth.  After the visual images of the dreamy, lethargic routine of the humble Grass Emily moves on to the later days of a royal life that the Grass leads, in the ‘sovereign barns’. I find the beginning stanzas of the ‘little to do’  life of the Grass quite appealing. The life of Grass is very similar to the mundane daily chores of a house wife. The Grass dances to the tunes that the breeze brings, she has as her companions a few simpletons like butterflies and bees, her days are revolved around entertaining them or brooding over them. She has to hold and pamper sunshine on her lap during the day, at night she strings pearls of dew to adorn herself. Grass has to stoop many times to survive too! Emily probably feels that this kind of life lacks self respect; dancing to someone’s tunes, bowing to stronger beings. She repeats in the last stanza ‘The Grass so little has to do’ and  prefers to be ‘Hay’ residing in the ‘sovereign barns’. Matured and experienced Hay has an air of authority, elegance. Hay, I understand is metaphorically and symbolically associated with wealth, worldly goods (in both art and literature of the 15h and 16th centuries). I wish Emily was kinder to the Grass!

NB: I interpret Emily, the way I understand her

5 thoughts on “The Grass So Little Has To Do…

  1. This is just wonderful. I like the poem, and I like your meditation on it. This is another that I didn’t know. It seems every time I turn around, I’m finding another of her poems that appeals. Coincidentally, I just posted one of her spring poems about the trees on my photo blog. Maybe you know it, but I didn’t. She certainly doesn’t allow anything to escape her notice: trees, grasses, flowers, bees — the whole of the natural world and its rhythms delight her.

    Is your last photo of a haystack? We used to have those when I was a kid: hay in stacks, and corn in shocks. Now, everything is mechanized, and no one has use for those beautiful forms any more.


    1. Yes Linda that’s a haystack. They still have those in some of the villages in Kerala. Machine rolled bales of hay are more common now.
      Glad you find my take on the poem appealing. I have yet to follow your photo blog. Would have missed many posts. Yes, I love the one on ‘A light exists in Spring…’


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