There is a pain—soutter—It swenables substance up—Then covers the Abyss via Trance—So Memory have the right to stepAround—across—upon it—As one within a Swoon—Goes safely—wright here an open up eye—Would drop him—Bone by Bone.

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This Abyss of pain differs fundamentally from the Pit of seven poems ago(F508). The Pit exists oppositionally to heaven. Its danger is such that thesufferer cannot relocate, look at it or even dream lest she drop. Tbelow is no hintof its provenance, its function, or its composition. It appears to manifest as dcheck out,angst, or despair. Perhaps it is the kind of unwelcome vision – or reality – thatdraws our great poets and also thinkers but at the same time threa10s their abilityto attribute.
The Abyss, on the various other hand, renders experientialfeeling to a lot of of the rest of us. It is a well of pain so deep and also treacherousthat to loss into it would certainly be favor death. We can imagine this type of pain evenif we have actually never knowledgeable it. Such grief swallows up resides leaving just atrance-choose state, for to look at it right on would be to "drop … Boneby Bone" right into its abyss. What a gruesome image! Pain have the right to dismember,dissolve the cohesiveness of the psychic skeleton. We view the bones let loss,one by one, until the abyss becomes a boneyard of broken stays.
The SleepwalkerWalter Schnackenberg 1956

Yet the sufferer is not completelyimmobilized as with the Pit. Memory blurs the event or topic till to thinkback upon the pain is to remember as if sleepwalking or in delirium. Tright here isno vertigo without sight; thus, much less threat of falling. Dickinkid portraysthe sleepwalking quality of memory in the fifth line, wright here "Memory canaction / Around – throughout – upon" the Abyss. Each of the three prepositionsstarts via a vowel; their iambic meter appears heavy. Memory"s actions are slowand tentative: initially approximately the pain, then stepping over and also throughout, andultimately venturing out upon the trance-veiled abyss itself.
We have seen Dickinsoncheck out this "Swoon" state before. In "From Blank to Blank"(F484),she pushes her "Mechanic feet" alengthy from "Blank to Blank",concluding at the end that shutting her eyes and also groping is "lighter"than seeing. Dickinson"s powerful poem "After good pain, a formal feelingcomes" describes sufferers as "regardless grown" so that theymove in a "mechanical" and "Wooden way". The excellent pain canbe remembered ("if outlived") as if freezing: Chill, Stupor,"then the letting go –" (F372).That letting go is the turning ameans from attachment: the seeing and feeling andsense of engagement with the human being.
Due to the fact that Dickinson"stime, neuroresearchers, psychiatrists, and biochemists have studied how thebrain responds to trauma and deep ditension. One reliable coping device isdissociation: relations among the sufferer"s identification, memory, thoughts,feelings are disrupted. Memories are distorted and also suppressed. Somescientists argue that traumatic memories are encoded in a different part of thebrain than normal memories. Victims might have implicit memories of anger,sadness and also terror yet be without the explicit details. Their pain has actually pulled asort of trance over the abyss. The question still being suggested is when, exactly how –and if – this trance have to be broken.

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Posted bySusan Kornfeldat9:46 AM


I was mesmerized by Peter Mathiessen's trilogy of the very same name. Its epigraph carried me back to Dickinboy for yet one more immersion about age 50. Your method is spot on. Thank you. Will plumb your depths of insight via eagerness.