First Edition of La Decoration Arabe
Emily Dickinson's Nature Mysticism : A Photo Poetic Labyrinth
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(Click anywhere on the garden diagram below to navigate the labyrinth)
Circuit IV - (28) He Ate and Drank the Precious Words (J-1587) (F-1593)

(1) He ate and drank the precious words,    
His spirit grew robust;
(2) He knew no more that he was poor,    
Nor that his frame was dust.
(3) He danced along the dingy days,    
And this bequest of wings
(4) Was but a book — what liberty
A loosened spirit brings!

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

(1) He ate and  
drank the
  precious Words –
His Spirit grew
robust –
(2) He knew no more  
that he was poor;
Nor that his
frame was
  Dust –
(3) He danced  
along the dingy
And this Bequest
of Wings
(4) Was but a Book –
What Liberty
A loosened Spirit
  brings –

~ Emily Dickinson

Commentary adapted from Emily Dickinson's Poems & Letters
(1) "For several years, my Lexicon — was my only companion." ~ (L #261)
(1-2) "How invaluable to be ignorant, for by that means one has
all in reserve and it is such an economical ecstasy." ~ (Fragment 36)
(1-2) "Just the tangled road children walked . . . George Sand
'must make no noise in her grandmother's bedroom.'
Poor children!  Women, now, queens, now!" ~ (L #234)
(ref: George Sand, Atlantic Monthly, Nov. 1861)
(2) "The 'Madonnas' I see, are those that pass the House to their work,
carrying Saviors with them –" (L #460)
(1-3) "This 'mortal has already put on immortality.'
George Eliot is one. The mysteries of human nature surpass
'mysteries of redemption.'" ~ (L #389)
(ref. Eliot, Middlemarch) (Biblical ref: 1 Corinthians 15:53)
(1-4) "There is no frigate like a book to take us lands away, nor any
courses — like a page of prancing poetry — this traverse may
the poorest take without oppress of toll, how frugal is the chariot
that bears the human soul." ~ (J-1263) (F-1286)
(1-4) A precious, mouldering pleasure 't is to meet an antique book,
in just the dress his century wore; a privilege, I think . . . his quaint
opinions to inspect, his knowledge to unfold . . . when Plato was a
certainty, and Sophocles a man; when Sappho was a living girl,
and Beatrice wore the gown . . ." ~ (J-0371) (F-0569)
(1-4) "'[The Word] made flesh and dwelt among us' could
condescension be, like this consent of language,
this loved philology." ~ (J-1651) (F-1715)
(1-4) (on "cutting the book")
"Vinnie left her Testament on a little stand in our room, and it made me
think of her, so I thought I w'd open it, and the first words I read were in
those sweetest verses — 'Blessed are the poor — Blessed are they that
mourn - Blessed are they that weep, for they shall be comforted.'" ~ (L #98)
(biblical ref. Matthew 5:1-12, with Luke 6:20-21)
(2) "To her derided home a weed of summer came — she did not
know her station low nor ignominy's name." ~ (J-1586) (F-1617)
(3-4) "Some keep the Sabbath in surplice — I just wear my wings."
~ (J-0324) (F-0236)
(3-4) "Except thyself may be thine enemy, aptivity is
consciousness — so's liberty." ~ (J-0384) (F-0649)
(3-4) "Not alone we fly . . . he has obligation who has Paradise."
~ (J-1348) (F-1362)
(3-4) (compare) To see the summer sky is poetry, though never
in a book to lie — true poems flee.
~ (J-1472) (F-1491)
(3-4)"Sweet Land of Liberty" is a superfluous Carol
till it concern ourselves - then it outrealms the Birds." ~ (L #1004)
(4) "By chivalries — as tiny, [as] a blossom, or a book, the seeds of
smiles are planted — which blossom in the dark."
~ (J-0055) (F-0037)
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Photo Credit:
First Edition of "La Decoration Arabe," by the French historian Prisse
D'Avennes, part of "L'Art Arabe" pub. 1869-1877, and introducing Islamic
decorative art to a Western audience, with chromolithographs
(the ED poem is dated about 1882 by R. W. Franklin)