There came a Day at Summer's full

by Emily Dickinson


Original Language English

There came a Day at Summer's full,
Entirely for me —
I thought that such were for the Saints,
Where Resurrections — be —

The Sun, as common, went abroad,
The flowers, accustomed, blew,
As if no soul the solstice passed
That maketh all things new —

The time was scarce profaned, by speech —
The symbol of a word
Was needless, as at Sacrament,
The Wardrobe — of our Lord —

Each was to each The Sealed Church,
Permitted to commune this — time —
Lest we too awkward show
At Supper of the Lamb.

The Hours slid fast — as Hours will,
Clutched tight, by greedy hands —
So faces on two Decks, look back,
Bound to opposing lands —

And so when all the time had leaked,
Without external sound
Each bound the Other's Crucifix —
We gave no other Bond —

Sufficient troth, that we shall rise —
Deposed — at length, the Grave —
To that new Marriage,
Justified — through Calvaries of Love —

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

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

Something today to honor the Summer Solstice...

So, what do you think she means by a "Day at Summer's full, / Entirely for me --" that she thought was only for "Saints, / Where Resurrections -- be --"? With lines like this, can we doubt that Emily Dickinson was an American mystic? How many of us were taught in high school that she was a morbid spinster? Read her poetry side-by-side with Rumi or Mirabai, and she'll be among her true peers.

I especially like the third stanza. This eternal moment she has discovered is "scarce profaned, by speech -- / The symbol of a word / Was needless..." Emily Dickinson is experiencing complete and profound silence, where the mind stops trying to chop its awareness of reality into manageable conceptual pieces. Instead, the mind at rest, the blissful, unedited awareness of reality floods in. We discover that reality does not need to be clothed with the chatter or conceptualization of the mind, just as the Lord needs no "Wardrobe"... "at Sacrament".

She invites us to recognize that we are each "The Sealed Church" and "permitted to commune" with the Eternal. In other words, we don't need the intermediary of an external church, the true church is already within us and complete. This is the proper place of communion. In fact she urges us to regularly spend time in our internal communion so that when we finally come before the Divine, we are not "awkward." That sacred "Supper" should already be familiar to us.

Regardless of how quickly the Hours slide past -- as Hours do -- when we come to rest in silence and deep inner communion, we find we have returned to the eternal moment at Summer's full.



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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