We had two unexpected days off this week as Hurricane Matthew barrelled through Haiti. Port-au-Prince was not badly hit, but the southern part of the island is a real mess. We are gradually learning the extent of the mess.
I've lived in Haiti for a long time, and I've had many Poetry Fridays that fell during visits from tropical storms and hurricanes. But I'd never seen this poem before. It's not in my Kindle version of Emily Dickinson's poems (which is supposed to be complete!).
I love this poem because, whether Emily intended this or not, for me it touches on the effect of huge events (earthquakes, hurricanes, loss of love in whatever way that happens) on the human heart. "Calm is but a Wall of unattempted Gauze," we learn, when everything in our lives is shaken.
The heart breaks, and it also enlarges, and lets in new people; and those people are there to stay, no matter what comes later. The heart dissolves, and convulses; the heart is demolished. And somehow, in my experience, you never go back to that pre-disaster confidence in the trustworthiness of your own heart.
All the articles on Haiti's hurricane damage refer to the fact that Haiti is still recovering from the earthquake six years ago. Much as I hate my beloved adopted country being associated with nothing but natural disasters, it's true that we are still recovering, individually and corporately. And now there's something else to clean up.
The Heart has narrow Banks
It measures like the Sea
In mighty—unremitting Bass
And Blue Monotony
Till Hurricane bisect
And as itself discerns
Its sufficient Area
The Heart convulsive learns
That Calm is but a Wall
Of unattempted Gauze
An instant's Push demolishes
Violet Nesdoly has today's roundup.
2 hours ago