Monday, August 1, 2011

I shall know why (untitled)


I shall know why—when Time is over—
And I have ceased to wonder why—
Christ will explain each separate anguish
In the fair schoolroom of the sky*—

He will tell me what "Peter" promised**—
And I—for wonder at his woe
I shall forget the drop of Anguish
That scalds me now—that scalds me now!

---Emily Dickinson, circa 1880

* Many people have speculated that in heaven, we will have all our questions answered, but that, then, it won't matter anymore.

**Probably a reference to Peter's promise to Jesus that he absolutely would not deny Him through the hard times coming up. Those hard times were Jesus's trial later that night, His suffering and His death. Peter did, indeed, deny Christ, three times, and then went out and wept bitterly when the rooster crowed (as Jesus had prophesied), and Peter laid eyes on Jesus. This was Peter's anguish. Dickinson is probably making a parallel to the ways she knows she has fallen short and the anguish that brings, realizing that her anguish will fade when (1) confronted by Peter's in person and (2) she is in the presence of Christ. Since "Peter" is in quotes, Dickinson may be going beyond the literal Peter of the Bible to refer to someone, some man, who left her feeling betrayed.