“Forever — is composed of Nows”

We have a new poem, dear memorizing friends.

I know you always think I’ve forgotten. But I really haven’t. I’m just waiting and thinking. (Or, more likely, distracted by everything else in my life that’s not poetry.)

Did you know that I love Emily Dickinson? I love her for being so very weird. I love her freaky white dress she wore as a “recluse” and the apocryphal treats she lowered to children in a basket from her window when she was a bit too anxious to leave her room. I love her for writing lovely letters to men whom she hardly met in real life because she wouldn’t leave Amherst and for calling her romantic(?) interest who lived in Philadelphia, “My Philadelphia.” (Secret: I’ve been known to use that phrase for my own Philly-native-hubs). I love her for the dashes all over her poems that most would say look ugly but in reality are the perfect valleys of the lines, the unsaid part that holds the key to what is underneath her words. And I love her for her killer first lines:

I felt a Funeral in my Brain

Blazing in gold and quenching in purple

Bring me the sunset in a cup

Dare you see a soul at the white heat?

Eden is that old-fashioned House

An everywhere of silver

I could go on and on…

So why did I choose this poem when there are hundreds of Dickinson poems for our minds to fix themselves on? Honestly, I just feel drawn to these words. It feels like words I want to say to myself when my kids are screaming and I’m crying and I wish I had friends.

Forever – is composed of Nows – (690)

by Emily Dickinson

Forever – is composed of Nows –
‘Tis not a different time –
Except for Infiniteness –
And Latitude of Home –

From this – experienced Here –
Remove the Dates – to These –
Let Months dissolve in further Months –
And Years – exhale in Years –

Without Debate – or Pause –
Or Celebrated Days –
No different Our Years would be
From Anno Dominies –


“Forever — is composed of Nows.” All these sweet and frantic nows that only exist in this moment. What does she mean by “a Latitude of Home”? I don’t know but I can’t stop thinking about it and I think it’s something good.

Will you think about home and now and all those dashes with me and we’ll figure it out? 



Filed under Poetry

2 responses to ““Forever — is composed of Nows”

  1. Clio

    I’ve been thinking lately of all of the people who told me that your children “grow up too fast” or “it goes more quickly than you can imagine.” My youngest is almost 3 and my oldest is 5. And it has gone faster than I ever could have imagined 🙂 I try to remember that my “now” may be frustrating and sometimes feel impossible, but it is also beautiful and fleeting and I need to soak it all in.

  2. I’ve been thinking about this all day, wondering about the “latitude of Home”. I think I read somewhere that Emily Dickinson may have used “Home” to refer to God, in which case this phrase may be restating “Infiniteness” by referring the the breadth of God and perhaps the idea God exists in “the eternal present”??? It seems to me that we are called to live the presence of God in this very moment, Home.

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