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Posts Tagged ‘When I Was Small’

When I was small, a Woman died –
Today – her Only Boy
Went up from the Potomac –
His face all Victory 

To look at her – How slowly
The Seasons must have turned
Till Bullets clipt an Angle
And He passed quickly round – 

If pride shall be in Paradise –
Ourself cannot decide –
Of their imperial Conduct –
No person testified – 

But, proud in Apparition –
That Woman and her Boy
Pass back and forth, before my Brain
As even in the sky – 

I’m confident that Bravoes –
Perpetual break abroad
For Braveries, remote as this
In Scarlet Maryland –

 


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Dickinson wrote of a mother who had died previously and left an only son who died in a battle on the Potomac River (stanza 1). To her, it must have seemed a long time before the bullet took his life (stanza 2).  Dickinson debated (stanza 3) whether it was right to have pride (which is sometimes sinful) in Paradise.  But as she considered, back and forth, the ghosts (Apparitions) of the two, she concluded that such bravoes (even there) for bravery in bloody (scarlet) Maryland were justified (stanza 4). The link below gives the specifics of a battle at Balls Bluff on the Potomac in October, 1861, as the time and place the “only boy” died.

https://books.google.com/books?id=53x2cyrkm8oC&pg=PA55&lpg=PA55&dq=scarlet+maryland+dickinson&source=bl&ots=vc5DhO3rMp&sig=ZaVvGauaxAIeo4FpM2jK5gttsog&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiQ6tzG_KrKAhWGYyYKHRR5CsEQ6AEIKzAC#v=onepage&q=scarlet%20maryland%20dickinson&f=false

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