Category Archives: Pether, Abraham

To lose – if One can find again

The Snowdrop, 1807, Abraham Pether
Background Image: The Snowdrop, 1807, Abraham Pether

In “We lose – because we win“, Emily writes about what is lost when we sin, but here she is talking about the hope that comes from redemption. In the previous, “All these my banners be“, her flowers have all gone back into the earth in winter – “sleeps in state again” – and so here the flowers are seeming lost, the way a soul might be which has sinned. Yet grace known no boundary (there is no “chancel” separating the soul from grace in Christianity) and thus “One can find again”, meaning we can find out way back to grace, as well as the One: Christ / God can also fine those poor souls who live in sin underground.

She uses the language of the sinner in the third and fourth lines: “The Burglar”, “rob”, “Broker”, “cheat” to refer to human behavior at its worst, but also she is referring to Death robbing and cheating us of life. Thus while a person may live in a sinful way, Death cannot cheat someone who leaves open the possibility of redemption, the redemption of growing spring flowers which signify new life and rebirth from bad behavior.

And this rebirth is descried by her in the language of the laborer who with a “little spade of mine” digs and plants a garden, humble as it may be (her “spade” is “little”, but even it is effective enough), and if one at least leaves a “nook” for the “Daisy / And for the Columbine”, then they will grow come spring if you tend your garden well enough.

Yet there is hope even in the dead of winter when the “Crocus” grows through the snow meaning that even when things are at their darkest, when death seems to cover the earth, there is a “secret” buried deep out of sight that can grow and pave the way for rebirth. Thus even the worst of us have the hope of blooming new life even when we are so consumed with death and sin because the “secret” is that the “One” can see past death, through the “chancel” and into the soil where the dormant seeds lay ready for the snows to melt.

The final line thus reads like the chanted prayer of someone who longs for peace and for rebirth. Though it may still be winter and snows cover the earth, we can still “chant it softly – / There is no more snow” to cover our heart’s garden, and that our “banners”, though “plain” now, can grow “train by train” and break free of that which weighs us down into the dark earth where only death awaits.