Ugly Duckling (Opens Slideshow)
Emily Dickinson's Nature Mysticism : A Photo Poetic Labyrinth
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(Click anywhere on the garden diagram below to go to that section of the labyrinth)
Circuit III - (21) The Sky is Low, the Clouds are Mean (J-1075) (F-1121)

(1) The sky is low, the clouds are mean,    
A travelling flake of snow
(2) Across a barn or through a rut
Debates if it will go.

(3) A narrow wind complains all day    
How some one treated him;
(4) Nature, like us, is sometimes caught    
Without her diadem.

(Below: an original manuscript version
without editing or imposed lineation.)

  (1) The Sky is low –  
the Clouds are mean.
A Travelling Flake
of Snow
(2) Across a Barn  
or through a Rut
  Debates if it will go –

(3) A Narrow Wind  
complains all Day
How some one treated
(4) Nature, like Us  
is sometimes caught
Without her
  Diadem –

~ Emily Dickinson

Commentary adapted from Emily Dickinson's Poems & Letters
(1 low clouds, riddle) "The only ghost I ever saw was dressed in mechlin —
so — he wore no sandal on his foot — and stepped like flakes of snow. [...]
His conversation — seldom — his laughter, like the breeze — that
dies away in dimples among the pensive trees." ~ (J-0274) (F-0331)
(1-4) "We all have moments with the dust, but the dew is given." ~ (L #337)
(1-4) "The Earth has many keys — where melody is not is the unknown
penninsula — Beauty is nature's fact." ~ (J-1775) (F-0895 variant)
(1-4) "My business is circumference. An ignorance, not of customs,
but if caught with the dawn, or the sunset see me, myself the
only kangaroo among the beauty, Sir, if you please, it afflicts me,
and I thought that instruction would take it away." (L #268)
(1-4) "Not a flake assaults my birds but it freezes me.
Comfort, little creatures — whatever befall us,
this world is but this world." ~ (L #329)
(1-4) "We have no fruit this year, the frost having barreled that
in the bud — except the 'Fruits of the Spirit,' but
Vinnie prefers Baldwins." ~ (L #936)
(1-4) "I am from the fields, you know, and while quite at home
with the Dandelion, make but sorry figure in a drawing - room."
~ (unnumbered letter, to Susan Phelps? pub. 1992, Newsletter
Friends of Amherst College Library)
(4) "Solomon himself suffers much embarrassment."
~ (unnumbered letter, same as above, pub. 1992, Newsletter,
Friends of Amherst College Library (Biblical ref: Matthew 6:28-29)
(4) "Though [Nature's] reluctances are sweeter
than others' avowals." ~ (L #479)
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Photo Credit: ~ The Ugly Ducking, Hans Christian
Anderson Sculpture (detail) by Georg Lober, Central Park, NYC