Why make it doubt – it hurts it so

Tapisserie de l'Apocalypse - 2nd Trumpet, 14th century, Nicolas Bataille
Background Image: Tapisserie de l’Apocalypse – 2nd Trumpet, 14th century, Nicolas Bataille

This is a heartbreaking poem, made harder in not knowing who “Master” is and what she has done to “Offend the Vision”. But perhaps it is the work “Vision” which is a clue since she often writes about the world revealed to her through imagination, so perhaps she upset with herself for not paying attention to her imagination and thus she lost a “Vision” which she can’t now recover?

The first thing that came to mind when I read this poem was writer’s block and the fear of not ever being inspired again. It’s a dread I live with constantly and I always feel as if I have to be worthy to be gifted a new idea with which to work from. And when I don’t have a new idea I fret endlessly about thinking that ‘this is it, I have no more ideas, I’m finished’ and so I work myself up into a near panic that I’ll have a sort of creative death. And I wonder if perhaps this is something she had in mind when she wrote this poem? That’s she;s worried that she will no longer be worthy of the inspiration granted to her my this mysterious “Master”?

But she also seems to be suggesting that she believes she may have offended someone and that she will now be forgotten because they no longer want anything to do with her. Emily, for as unusual as she was, I’m sure was aware that she was a bit odd and that people reacted to her differently than how people might react to the rest of her family. And she probably never felt like she could act any different than her typical unusual self and so she probably worried that others would not think well of her. She probably very much wanted people to like her (she seems to like everyone) but she also seems like someone who cannot interact with the world in the regular way regular people do – she’s far too much i her own mind, and she sees the world under such a different light that she’s just unable to act like everyone else. And this can be a terribly lonely experience – sort of like how someone who is disabled might grow frustrated with the world treating them different – and so she’s hyper-aware that her unusual-ness might “Offend” someone but she’s powerless to stop it.

I’m probably projecting too much here, but a poem like this is so personal that it’s hard not to put myself in the poem and look at the world through this poetic lens. Perhaps it’s also her use of the word “me” twice at the end of the poem (rather than the more formal “I”) which makes the poem feel as if it were written for each individual reader.