Thursday, October 30, 2014

Ruin is formal, consecutive and slow

The Last Bookstore, Los Angeles

Holy Mackerel. I don't think I've ever read this one before, and while I wonder why, how often is it that you read a poem by your favorite poet for the very first time? I'm grateful to have missed it, to read it new.

Crumbling is not an instant's act (1010)

Crumbling is not an instant's Act
A fundamental pause
Dilapidation's processes
Are organized Decays —

'Tis first a Cobweb on the Soul
A Cuticle of Dust
A Borer in the Axis
An Elemental Rust —

Ruin is formal — Devil's work
Consecutive and slow —
Fail in an instant, no man did
Slipping — is Crashe's law —

Emily Dickinson


  1. And how the hell did she know so much?

  2. I suppose even back then people thought society was disintegrating. Isn't it always the end of the world?

  3. Oh that's brilliant.
    Thanks for posting it.

  4. By Jove, I think she's got it.

  5. Help me with the last line; "Crashe's law"?

  6. Emily -- Yes, it's confusing. I did a little research (I had never read that poem before!) and realized that it's the word "crash" with an e at the end. I think, and it's just a quick analysis, that she implies like throughout the rest of the poem that failure, falling, chaos, death, etc. -- even a crash -- is slow; therefore, a "slipping." Do you have any other ideas on what she might have meant?

  7. Does it pair up with the first line? Crumbling being not an instantaneous thing, but slipping being a crashing (and fairly instantaneous) thing? Maybe: no man failed by slipping (which isn't as complete a failure as say, ruin). Crash being the opposite of crumbling and all that. Or am I working too hard?

    haha... I feel a little like the students in the Billy Collins poem who tie the poem to a chair and beat it's meaning out of it!



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