TeeJaw Blog

Death Sets A Thing Significant

Posted in History by TeeJaw on Saturday, September 24, 2011, 10: 00 AM

This morning I was reading an internet discussion about a woman whose boyfriend died of cancer.  She has saved all of the email and text messages they exchanged over a period of years, and she reads selected ones from time to time.  I don’t think she intended to save them just to have them after he was gone, the ones she posted on the internet reflect their hope and belief that he was going to survive the cancer and they would be together for both of their lives.  Whether by plan or chance, these electronic notes and missives still exist and have now attained  precious significance.  Her boyfriend, planned future husband, by his words and hers recorded while he was present makes him seem to still be there, just out of reach.

Emily Dickinson knew nothing of email or text messages on the phone, nor of telephones for that matter, but she may have captured the essence of what this woman is feeling today, in this poem:

Death Sets A Thing Significant

Death sets a thing significant
The eye had hurried by,
Except a perished creature
Entreat us tenderly

To ponder little workmanships
In crayon or in wool,
With “This was last her fingers did,”
Industrious until

The thimble weighed too heavy,
The stitches stopped themselves,
And then ‘t was put among the dust
Upon the closet shelves.

A book I have, a friend gave,
Whose pencil, here and there,
Had notched the place that pleased him,–
At rest his fingers are.

Now, when I read, I read not,
For interrupting tears
Obliterate the etchings
Too costly for repairs.

For those interested, the piece I was reading can be found at Good.


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