Sweet Splendor
Emily Dickinson's Nature Mysticism : A Photo Poetic Labyrinth
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(Click anywhere on the garden diagram below to go to that section of the labyrinth)
Circuit II - (09) As If I Asked a Common Alms (J-0323) (F-0014)

(1) As if I asked a common alms,  
And in my wondering hand
(2) A stranger pressed a kingdom,  
And I, bewildered, stand;
(3) As if I asked the Orient  
Had it for me a morn,
(4) And it should lift its purple dikes,  
And shatter me with dawn!

(Below: an original manuscript version of a variation
of the same poem — this one from a letter dated 1884,
and without editing or imposed lineation):


(1) As if I asked  
a common Alms
And in my
wondering Hand
(2) A stranger pressed  
a Kingdom, and
I bewildered stand,
(3) As if I asked  
the Orient had
it for me a
Morn,
(4) And it should  
lift its Purple
Dikes, and
shatter me with
  Dawn –

~ Emily Dickinson

Commentary adapted from Emily Dickinson's Poems & Letters
(1-2) "He fathoms who obtains." ~ (J-1301) (F-1228)
(1-2) "The 'hand you stretch me in the Dark,' I put mine in, and turn
away – I have no Saxon [language], now –" ~ (L #265)
(1-4) "My flowers are near and foreign, and I have but to
cross the floor to stand in the Spice Isles." ~ (L #315)
(1-4) "My eye is fuller than my vase — her cargo is of dew —
and still — my heart — my eye outweighs — East India
for you!" ~ (J-0202) (F-0228)
(2) "The Savior's only signature to the Letter he wrote to all mankind, was,
A Stranger and ye took me in." ~ (L #1004)
(2) "Your letter much impressed me —
Your every suggestion is dimension." ~ (L #964)
(3-4) "I'll tell you how the Sun rose —
A Ribbon at a time —" (J-0318) (F-0204)
(3-4) "Not knowing when the dawn will come, I open every door."
~ (J-1619) (F-1647)
(3-4) "Shells from the coast mistaking — I cherished them for All —
happening in after ages to entertain a Pearl." ~ (J-0693) (F-0716)
(3-4) "Lightning at our feet, instills a foreign landscape." ~ (L #641)
(3-4) "[Recollecting where] 'Frogs' sincerer than our own
splash in their Maker's pools."
~ (L #207) (ref. possibly to Basho's famous haiku)
(4) "I find ecstasy in living — the mere sense of living
is joy enough." ~ (L #342a)
(4) "Humbled with wonder at your self-forgetting,
I delayed till now."
~ (L #742)
(4) "Morning might come by accident —" ~ (L #912)
(4) "The Orient is in the West." ~ (L #265)
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Mystic Wisdom Bodhisattva Manjusri, "Sweet Splendor"