Emily Dickinson, “As if the Sea should part” (695)

As if the Sea should part (695)
Emily Dickinson

As if the Sea should part
And show a further Sea —
And that — a further — and the Three
But a presumption be —

Of Periods of Seas —
Unvisited of Shores —
Themselves the Verge of Seas to be —
Eternity — is Those —


“Of Periods of Seas:” the seas are time, eventually. We started “as if” there was a miracle. Miracles Dickinson seems to recognize as the suspension of all too human or all too natural time.

So “As if the Sea should part / And show a further Sea” gives us a quasi-Biblical image to start. The Sea parted, we should be able to walk through… oh wait. We could part that “further” Sea also, but the infinitude of the divine is not infinitude simply. Another “further” Sea will emerge, making every parting “Three.”

If you divide the present, you get past and future. That doesn’t mean the present has disappeared. Rather, it has changed and a new past and future have emerged. Very well: what does this have to do with miracles? Isn’t the problem of time a merely human one?

The “Three” are “but a presumption” when we realize the sea keeps dividing. It’d be nice to part the Sea properly, but past, present and future all mix together (there is something more than vaguely Heideggerian at work here). “Periods of Seas,” therefore, aren’t entirely accurate. They’re absent any serious limit, i.e. experience (“Unvisited of Shores”). And they are not even the truly infinite, despite the regress. The constant threefold division, the constant motion of the Sea itself, may be “the Verge of Seas to be.” “Shores” could also be that “Verge.” Our analysis of our own life, whether through experience or something else, is as eternity.

The attempted miracle generates the self-division of time. It might be nice to place ourselves on shores and see a particular sea. That’s impossible. Something about being human itself is infinite. Both experience and miracles fail to do it justice.


  1. I know that this story all about miracle and justice will awake my soul to the reality of life, Thanks for sharing always an inspiring ones that… I will love to view it up other links of Emily Dickson…

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