Five Poems by Emily Dickinson, read by Anne Burnham at the funeral of Helen Moore on January 23, 2003

There's a certain slant of light,
On winter afternoons,
That oppresses, like the weight
Of cathedral tunes.

Heavenly hurt it gives us;
We can find no scar,
But internal difference
Where the meanings are.

None may teach it anything,
'Tis the seal, despair,-
An imperial affliction
Sent us from the air.

When it comes, the landscape listens
Shadows hold their breath,
When it goes, 'tis like the distance
On the look of death.

We grow accustomed to the Dark
When light is put away -
As when the neighbor holds the lamp
To witness her goodbye -

A moment - We uncertain step
For newness of the night -
Then - fit our vision to the dark -
And meet the Road, erect.

And so of larger - Darkness -
Those evenings of the Brain -
When not a moon disclose a sign -
Or Star - come out - within.

The bravest - grope a little -
And sometimes hit a Tree
Directly in the Forehead -
But as they learn to see -

Either the Darkness alters -
Or something in the sight
Adjusts itself to Midnight -
And Life steps almost straight.

Exultation is the going
Of an inland soul to sea,
Past the houses - past the headlands -
Into deep Eternity -

Bred as we, among the mountains,
Can the sailor understand
The divine intoxication
Of the first league out from land?

We learn in the Retreating
How vast an one
Was recently among us -
A Perished Sun

Endear in the departure
How doubly more
Than all the Golden Presence
It was - before --

Because I could not stop for Death -
He kindly stopped for me -
The Carriage held but just Ourselves -
And Immortality.

We slowly drove - He knew no haste
and I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For His civility.

We passed the school, where Children strove
At recess - in the ring -
We passed the fields of Gazing Grain -
We passed the Setting Sun -

Or rather - He passed us -
The Dews drew quivering and chill -
For only Gossamer, my Gown -
My Tippet - only Tulle -

We paused before a house that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground -
The roof was scarcely visible -
The cornice - in the Ground -

Since then - 'tis centuries - and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses' Heads
Were toward eternity -

Return to the Order of Service, read a lovely essay that Helen wrote, or visit some idiosyncratic poetry pages.