Guest poem sent in by Rachel Rein
(Poem #1786) The Moon is Distant from the Sea
The moon is distant from the sea, And yet with amber hands She leads him, docile as a boy, Along appointed sands. He never misses a degree; Obedient to her eye, He comes just so far toward the town, Just so far goes away. Oh, Signor, thine the amber hand, And mine the distant sea, -- Obedient to the least command Thine eyes impose on me.
As the 22nd Dickinson poem on Minstrels, there isn't much left to say about the formidable woman herself, though I will touch upon the text for a moment. I was introduced to it while singing an arrangement by David Childs in a woman's chorale. I've seen the poem written with a dash in nearly every phrase instead of commas or periods, though I do not know which version, if either, is the "correct" one. I've also heard some say Dickinson was writing about God. I would broaden the scope to say I believe this poem to be about any strong male figure, be that father, brother, or a deity. Strong, though, to a fault; we cannot tell whether the sea wishes to be so conforming, does not have a choice, or does not know the difference. It is also interesting to note the gender of the moon and the sea, then the seeming reversal in the last stanza: the man becomes the formerly feminine moon while Dickinson becomes the manchild sea. While I do not know what to make of this, I hope someone will comment and illuminate. In all, this is one of my favorite Dickinson poems and I'm proud to add it to the Minstrel archive. -Rae Rein