Monday Morning Musings:

Tell all the truth but tell it slant — (1263)

“Tell all the truth but tell it slant —

Success in Circuit lies

Too bright for our infirm Delight

The Truth’s superb surprise

As Lightning to the Children eased

With explanation kind

The Truth must dazzle gradually

Or every man be blind —“

–Emily Dickinson



A brilliant she is born

here, there, in the past, now

she lived, flowered—perhaps

a rose with thorns—

or a pale bud that only blooms unseen,

but the fever, the desire to create

to know

to explore

is not enough,

confined by men,


(only a woman)

put in a box

(too weak)

on a shelf

(an ornament)

in a cage

(shackled and punished)

Don’t think too hard, they say to her

your insides will be twisted,

you’ll go mad,

but she rises, resists

her voice rings out

and we wake



We see a new movie about Emily Dickinson

I learn afterward that

before she confined herself to life to Amherst,

to her home, garden, and poetry

she traveled a bit,

to Boston,

and to Philadelphia

walked the streets we’ve walked

I imagine her ghost lingering still

though the streets are paved and surrounded by new buildings,


she published only a few poems during her life

though she wrote thousands

she admired the Brontës,

women who had their work published

(though first under pseudonyms )

they loved their homes and families,

neither Emily married

(wives did not have time to write)


What was her truth

and what is truth

and does it slant,

or do we slant it?

Are facts facts

or alternate facts,

difficult, didactic, diffused

gradually, dazzlingly, deliciously



We see a performance of Gypsy

I remember watching the movie on TV

with a bit of a crush on Natalie Wood–

the way girls admire older teenage girls–

we’re entertained

we let them entertain us

and make us smile.

the orchestra sweeps us along with Mama Rose,

the ultimate stage mother,

annoying, unyielding, and yet we feel sorry for her

as she seeks the American dream for her children

during the Great Depression

and watch, listen to the music and words of Laurents, Styne, and Sondheim,

the great American musical



I think the real Gypsy Rose Lee must have dazzled

but not all at once–

or rather showing only some, not all–


so that men would not be blinded,

but rather left with wanting more

as she entertained them and made them smile.


After the performance

on this Memorial Day weekend

the sky suddenly clears


dazzling gradually

delaying the delectable,

revealing the late spring night of beauty


and we sit, eat, drink


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and watch the people walk by

listen to their conversations

wonder about their plans

the young woman leaning on the car taking a selfie

the man with his children waiting for their table,

the trio at the table next to us, discussing diets,

a couple strolls by, the woman says,

“But he’s no longer addicted.”
my husband and I agree that’s good,

even if it seems unlikely.


I think about Memorial Day

the day to honor and remember the military fallen,

the long weekend celebrated with parades, barbecue grills,

and trips “down the shore”

Isn’t it strange?

though perhaps not,

to celebrate life, instead of death

and isn’t that what they fought for–

so that we could sit and eat with our families in peace

so that all can receive educations, and not just those who can afford private schools

so all will be able to sort fact from fiction

so that all men and women, all genders, all races, and religions

can live in freedom

isn’t that why they fought

so that I can write these words

and you can read them?

my truth,

slanted like the sunglow as evening falls

blinding, dazzling


revealed gradually

coming full circle

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Today is Memorial Day here in the US. I am mindful and thankful for all the men and women who served and sacrificed their lives, even if I have not supported the wars and conflicts in which they fought.

We saw A Quiet Passion and Gypsy. We ate at Cuba Libre.

I dreamt poetry last night, but sadly I will not have much time to write it this week. As some of you know, I am reading, writing, and editing articles on rape, and my manuscript deadline is. . .um, gulp. . .this week. So. . .I may not be so active in Blogland for the next week or so. Then again, I do need to take a break occasionally. 😉





29 thoughts on “Dazzled

  1. A lovely tribute to the Emilys and all the fallen soldiers who fought for their truths in order that we can see truths slanting slightly … Thanks Merril and good luck with deadlines 🙂

  2. I will miss you and your dazzling poetry while you’re away on your writing deadline mission. Yes, we must dazzle slowly, so as not to blind – as writers, poets, strippers, lovers. Thanks for the review on the “Emily” movie – can’t wait to watch it. xo

    • Thanks so much, Pam!
      A Quiet Passion is by the same director who did Sunset Song that I wrote about a few weeks ago. There are lots of slow beautifully lit scenes and wonderful music, as well as some funny lines, too.

  3. Lots to chew on here, Merril! I love Emily. I could say more, but why? That says it all. As far as Gypsy goes, have you read Carolyn Quinn’s book Mama Rose’s Turn? So good. I loved getting all the behind the scenes info about the family and also the musical, too.

  4. Natalie Wood was truly magic on screen. I read recently that her sister, Lana, is homeless after having lost her house. She mentioned Natalie and said that if she were alive, Natalie would always watch out for her. Tragic.

    I enjoyed your slide show. For a moment, I thought the rose was between your teeth. Do you tango, Merril? Lol. Great photos!

    All the best with your project, darling! xo

  5. “Yes” to get to say yes…that’s what they fought for and what we celebrate by this pause in time. (it really did feel like one this year…).
    I’ll try to sent some extra energy to get you through the week! (K)

  6. I remember Gypsy with Natalie Wood, too. It was one of my favorite musicals when I was a girl. Somehow it led me to learning about Josephine Baker, but I’m not sure how that would have come about way back then.

    I wish I had your subtlety when it comes to incorporating current events. You do it in a lovely, gentle, way. Or so it seems to me on a day when I’m not feeling quite so gentle or lovely when it comes to current events.

    “and isn’t that what they fought for–

    so that we could sit and eat with our families in peace”

    Yes, it is. That and all the other things you mentioned. 🙂

    • Awww–thank you for your lovely comment, Robin.
      I’m not feeling too great about current events either, so I’m glad you appreciated what I wrote and how I wrote it. 🙂
      I guess if you were looking up burlesque, you’d find Josephine Baker, too. She’s in my Cultural Encyclopedia of the Breast.

  7. This held a lot within its beautifully chosen words, Merril. Theatre, movie, poetry and everyday freedoms we take for granted. I didn’t read Memorial Day posts, just read the replies on my post and went to bed.
    Busy work week and happy to read something lovely and full of meaning (coming full circle) tonight.
    I liked the turquoise with the color contrast of the rose in your photograph. You can tell you and your husband have such fun and warmth between the two of you.

    • Thank you, Robin. It was a beautiful afternoon/evening–perfect work break.
      Sorry you had such a busy work week. I hope you have a chance to relax and do something fun.

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