Wednesday, August 15, 2007

One Crown That No One Seeks by Emily Dickinson

One Crown That No One Seeks

One crown that no one seeks
And yet the highest head
Its isolation coveted
Its stigma deified

While Pontius Pilate lives
In whatsoever hell
That coronation pierces him
He recollects it well.
--Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson's poems are very good at capturing a moment of time, a feeling, or an image. I think perhaps that it may have helped her live her life that way - one moment at a time. It's well known that she hardly ever left home, and probably had some kind of mental illness. For many with these problems, thinking about the past only brings reminders of painful moments, and there is no hope for the future. It can be pleasant to live in a perpetually floating moment.

President Faust used this poem in his April 1991 conference address, A Crown of Thorns, a Crown of Glory. "Perhaps this cruel act was a perverse attempt to mimic the placing of an emperor’s laurel upon His head. Thus, there was pressed down upon Him a crown of thorns. He accepted the pain as part of the great gift He had promised to make. How poignant this was, considering that thorns signified God’s displeasure as He cursed the ground for Adam’s sake that henceforth it would bring forth thorns. But by wearing the crown, Jesus transformed thorns into a symbol of His glory. As Emily Dickinson so aptly described it:"

I'll also mention here, another poem that President Faust quoted a line or two from. This was in his Feb 2003 First Presidency message in the Ensign, Strengthening the Inner Self. "We are comforted by the knowledge that those who strengthen their inner selves shall see the face of God. The Lord Himself said, “It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am” (D&C 93:1). Edna St. Vincent Millay reminds us,
The soul can split the sky in two,
And let the face of God shine through."

Those lines are from the long poem Renascence, which is about a person who gets a glimpse of what it would be like to be omniscient like God is, and sees that the infinite knowledge of suffering and sin is too much for a mortal soul, and so dies, and then, after calling out to God, is reborn and washed clean by the rain. I found it to be a fascinating study of the atonement, and God's love for us. It is rather long and obscure, though, so I'll let you follow the link if you're interested, rather than posting it here.

So there are today's poems about love. I know they don't fit into my usual definition of the term, but when you're pulling from conference talks, you tend to get an over-emphasis on the religious for some reason. There'll be two more posts in the President Faust series, and then we'll be back to the normal routine.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Karen; this was a good idea. I have really enjoyed the good memories of President Faust this week. Mom