______ WE GROW ACCUSTOMED to the DARK ______
If I had the right –– or the temerity –– to give this poem a name, I would call it “To Those Left Behind.” Emily Dickinson never gave titles to her poems, they are always identified by simply the first line.
We think often of the brave men horribly killed in battle, but too little attention has been paid –– I feel –– to the widows and orphans, mothers, fathers, younger siblings and close friends forced to suffer the pain of losing a loved one, a helpmate, a guide, and a companion.
After all, for the dead it is over –– their suffering, one would hope, is at an end. Those left behind, however, must somehow carry on and find find new purpose in living. This poem, I feel, addresses their situation eloquently.
We grow accustomed to the Dark ––
When Light is put away ––
As when the Neighbor holds the Lamp
To witness her Good bye ––
A Moment –– We uncertain step
For newness of the night ––
Then –– fit our Vision to the Dark ––
And meet the Road –– erect ––
And so of larger –– Darknesses ––
Those Evenings of the Brain ––
When not a Moon disclose a sign ––
Or Star –– come out –– within ––
The Bravest –– grope a little ––
And sometimes hit a Tree
Directly in the Forehead ––
But as they learn to see ––
Either the Darkness alters ––
Or something in the sight
Adjusts itself to Midnight ––
And Life steps almost straight.
~ Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)