Take Your Heaven further on

by Emily Dickinson


Original Language English

Take Your Heaven further on --
This -- to Heaven divine Has gone --
Had You earlier blundered in
Possibly, e'en You had seen
An Eternity -- put on --
Now -- to ring a Door beyond
Is the utmost of Your Hand --
To the Skies -- apologize --
Nearer to Your Courtesies
Than this Sufferer polite --
Dressed to meet You --
See -- in White!

-- from The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, Edited by Thomas H. Johnson

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

Beyond being another stunning poem from Emily Dickinson, this poem gives many strong hints of the depth of Dickinson's mystical experience --

She is generally speaking of two levels of the experience of heaven, and she urges us to "Take your Heaven further on --" and "to ring a Door beyond."

With initial spiritual awakening, one can experience deep bliss and the timeless sense of eternity right now. But there can still reside within the awareness a sense of separation from the experience, that it is an "experience" you are having which may end, while "you" will continue. But you can dive deeply, completely into this blissful state, passing a threshold in which "you" disappear and only the "experience" eternally remains.

In this deeper, non-dualistic sense of "Heaven," you often don't even know how to refer to yourself, since you don't perceive yourself as the separate entity implied by words like "I" and "me." Like many non-dualistic sages, Dickinson here refers to herself merely as "This" -- this awareness, this body, this presence. Others may see her as the separate entity they know as Emily, but to her, she simply is.

When she speaks of being dressed in white, Dickinson is speaking on two levels: Later in her life, she took to actually wearing white clothing. But I suspect she is also speaking of the mystic's experience of witnessing the self as a radiant being of white. The clothing is just an outer symbol for being truly clothed in white.



Recommended Books: Emily Dickinson

The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson Women in Praise of the Sacred: 43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women The Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry American Triptych: Anne Bradstreet, Emily Dickinson, and Adrienne Rich Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson
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Take Your Heaven