Trouble sleeping? Your dose of twilight Dickinson, in honor of National Poetry Month

Dickinson’s use of stars, the night sky, and other celestial effects never ceases to take the edge off occasional anguish (about which I know nothing, of course). If nothing else, ruminate on the tender eloquence of “just as the Night keeps fetching stars” and “as slightly as the Routes of Stars”…

Here are some curated Emily excerpts for the weary mind, with her original spelling intact: 

“I’ve nothing Else, to bring, you know—

So I keep bringing these—

Just as the Night keeps fetching stars—

To our familiar eyes. 

Maybe—we shouldn’t mind them—

Unless they didn’t come

Then—maybe it would puzzle us

To find our way Home


“As slightly as the Routes of Stars —

Ourselves—asleep below—

We know that their superior Eyes

Include us—as they go— 

(FR771, stanza 2, variant)

“The Moon was but a Chin of Gold

A night or two ago—

And now she turns Her perfect Face

Opon the World below—

(F735B, stanza 1)

“Contained in this short Life

Are magical extents

The soul returning soft at night

To steal securer thence

(F1175B, partial)

“On that specific Pillow 

Our projects flit away—

The Night’s tremendous Morrow

And whether sleep will stay

Or usher us— a stranger—

To situations new

The effort to comprise it

Is all the soul can do—


“Her sweet Weight on my Heart a Night

Had scarcely deigned to lie—

When, stirring, for Belief’s delight,

My Bride had slipped away—

If ‘twas a Dream—made solid—just—

The Heaven to confirm—

Or if Myself were dreamed of Her—

The power to presume—

(F611A, partial)

“The Night was wide—and furnished scant

With but a single Star—

That often as a Cloud it met—

Blew out itself—for fear—

(F617A, stanza 1)

“I had no cause to be awake—

My Best—was gone to sleep—

(F662A, partial)

“Permission to recant—

Permission to forget—

We turned our backs upon the Sun

For perjury of that—

Not Either—noticed Death—

Of Paradise—aware—

Each other’s Face—was all the Disc

Each other’s setting—saw—

(F708A, partial)

“Withdrew the Sun—to other Wests—

Withdrew the furthest Star

Before Decision—stooped to speech—

And then—be audibler

The Answer of the Sea unto

The Motion of the Moon—

Herself adjust Her Tides—unto—

Could I—do else—with Mine? 

(F712A, partial)

“Nor does the Night forget

A Lamp for Each—to set—

Wicks wide away—

The Midnight’s Dusky Arms

Clasp Hemispheres, and Homes

(TF765A, partial stanza 2, partial stanza 3)

“Lightly stepped a yellow star 

To it’s lofty place

Loosed the Moon her silver hat

From her lustral Face

All of evening softly lit

As an Astral Hall

(F1698A, partial)

“My best Acquaintances are those

With Whom I spoke no Word—

The Stars that stated come to Town 

Esteemed Me never rude

Although to their Celestial Call

I failed to make reply—

My constant—reverential Face

Sufficient Courtesy


And a last that holds a touch of encouragement and humor:

“We grow accustomed to the Dark—

When Light is put away—

As when the Neighbor holds the Lamp

To witness her Good bye—

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—Darknesses—

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.


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