The Himmaleh was known to stoop (F460, J48)




The Himmaleh was known
to stoop
Unto the Daisy low –
Transported with Compassion
That such a Doll should
Where Tent by Tent – Her Universe
Hung Out it’s Flags of Snow –

Link to EDA manuscript. Originally in: Packet XIX, Fascicle 22, written in ink, dated ca. 1862. First published in London Mercury, 19 (February 1929), 355-56, and Further Poems (1929), 153, with stanzas 2 and 4 omitted, and the remaining two arranged in seven and nine lines.

In Fascicle 22, this poem is preceded by “‘Why do I love’ You, Sir?” (F459A, J480), the last stanza of which is  visible on the manuscript image above. In that poem, the speaker compares her beloved to the “sunrise” and answers the opening question with, “The sunrise – Sir – Compelleth / Me–”.  A different scenario plays out in this poem, in which the giant mountain “stoops” to the low Daisy, although Richard Sewall still sees here “the same attitude of humble devotion that ‘Daisy’ adopts towards her ‘Master,’ ‘Lord,’ or (by implication) ‘king’ in the Master letters.”

Arresting is the word “Doll.” According to the 1844 Webster’s Dictionary, it derives from the word for “form, image, resemblance, an idol, a false god.” The definition given is “A puppet or baby for a child; a small image in the human form, for the amusement of little girls.” The rhymes of “low” and “grow” connect Daisy and Doll, but both are also linked to “universe,” a word implying vastness, and are the references for “it’s [sic] Flags of Snow,” a reference to winter and whiteness.

One more arresting connection to “doll.” In theorizing Dickinson’s Gothicism (discussed in last week’s post), Daneen Wardrop uses Sigmund Freud’s theory of the uncanny, which he based on a reading of E. T. A Hoffmann’s story, “The Sandman.”

Moira Shearer as Olympia in the 1951 film, “The Tales of Hoffmann,” directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger

This story features a life-like mechanical doll called Olympia, which later feminist theorists understand as a figure of the fetishized and subordinated woman under patriarchy.

Sources     Back to Poem index for Jan 15-21