The Sun Kept Setting—Setting—Still

A poem by Emily Dickinson:

The Sun kept setting—setting—still
No Hue of Afternoon—
Upon the Village I perceived
From House to House ’twas Noon—

The Dusk kept dropping—dropping—still
No Dew upon the Grass—
But only on my Forehead stopped—
And wandered in my Face—

My Feet kept drowsing—drowsing—still
My fingers were awake—
Yet why so little sound—Myself
Unto my Seeming—make?

How well I knew the Light before—
I could see it now—
‘Tis Dying—I am doing—but
I’m not afraid to know—

My girlfriend set and printed a copy of this while in a history of the book class a while back, and I have the framed copy sitting on the stand next to my pillow. While it’s more about a personal death, and not exactly the death of a civilization or a culture, it still evokes the sentiment of loss that so accompanies anyone who thinks for more than two seconds about the state in which we find ourselves. The first sentence of Endgame is (paraphrasing) “I am well acquainted with the landscape of loss.”

The ending couplet of the poem is one of the main reasons I felt it qualified as a “doomer” one; extrapolated to the death of the natural world, ’tis dying, we are doing, but we should not be afraid to know why and how—and what, if anything, can be done about it.

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One thought on “The Sun Kept Setting—Setting—Still

  1. Or maybe we just have to (should) accept it as natural and inevitable.

    Your response to this human and ecological dilemma reveals you to be less cynical than you think you are.

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