A Personal Reaction to "These are the days when Birds come back," poem #130 by Emily Dickinson

These are the days when Birds come back
Emily Dickinson

These are the days when Birds come back —
A very few — a Bird or two —
To take a backward look.

These are the days when skies resume
The old — old sophistries of June —
A blue and gold mistake.

Oh fraud that cannot cheat the Bee —
Almost thy plausibility
Induces my belief.

Till ranks of seeds their witness bear —
And softly thro’ the altered air
Hurries a timid leaf.

Oh Sacrament of summer days,
Oh Last Communion in the Haze —
Permit a child to join.

Thy sacred emblems to partake —
They consecrated bread to take
And thine immortal wine!


Unpacking this poem is too easy; I was just rummaging around Dickinson and found this imagery which uses blue and gold and a concern with whether it is springtime or autumn – I mean, seriously, if you’ve read anything I’ve written about poetry, you’ll know exactly what I’m going to say about it. You can see how this hit me personally almost immediately, given that I didn’t know of this poem until this morning. You might be tempted to compare this with the poem in the previous entry, but I think a better comparison is a poem I haven’t touched since a nasty break-up some years ago, that poem being here.

I think it is just remarkable how many times we think a particular love can come back into our lives, without realizing on what a deep level such a love is finished. Our aging is a reconception of the nature of love, and that’s almost like changing religions. Looking at the birds and the sky and the bees, that’s what the pagans would do, believing that only humans loved. Perhaps our move to “Christianity” in this poem is the realization that humans don’t do that, only someone or something divine loves. And so we don’t know where we fit in, we’re like children with a vision of something greater. Thus it is the Autumn that we behold that contains love, whether we are actually loving in the sense we are accustomed to using the term being another story. We are learning the hard lessons about love when we begin our maturity, not when we are completing it.

1 Comment

  1. we do often feel that, at least on a subconscious level, that they will return. As if it were all a misunderstanding. That is the hardest thing to deal with; acknowledging the obvious.

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