Not in this World to see his face —

by Elouise

~~~~~Antique Primer, School Reader  ca. 1923, Bolenius Illustrations

Here’s a clever piece by Emily Dickinson. In it she comes to a well-considered outcome. One that happens to suit her immensely. Who says you can’t strike a bargain with Himself? My comments follow.

Not in this World to see his face –
Sounds long – until I read the place
Where this – is said to be
But just the Primer – to a life –
Unopened – rare – upon the Shelf –
Clasped yet – to Him – and me –

And yet – My Primer suits me so
I would not choose – a Book to know
Than that – be sweeter wise –
Might some one else – so learned – be –
And leave me – just my A – B – C –
Himself – could have the Skies –

c. 1862

Emily Dickinson Poems, Edited by Brenda Hillman
Shambhala Pocket Classics, Shambhala 1995

The setting, not described directly but alluded to, seems to be a Library. One that contains a rare Book, Unopened, on a Shelf. I imagine Emily standing there pondering her options.

It seems she longs to see his face, but doesn’t want to wait until she’s in another World. By the end of this short poem, she has adroitly moved to a solution that solves not one, but two problems! What could be better?

I think her logic goes something like this.

It seems I must wait to see his face in another life, another World. Yet haven’t I read somewhere that this life is a Primer to a life as yet unseen? Unseen because it hasn’t yet been opened.

In fact, this life is hidden over there on the rare Book shelf. See it? There’s a Clasp that keeps the Book tightly shut. Not just to me, but to Himself.

Hmm. You know, the more I think about it, the more I like my small Primer. After all, it introduces me to whatever comes next, and it’s filled with lovely things that point toward whatever comes next.

How about this for a solution? I keep my Primer, and leave the more mysterious Clasped Book for Himself. And maybe for the learned theologians! Surely they would love to figure out the other-World secrets locked within the Book. Then one day they can all see Himself in another World and find out whether they were correct!

As for me, I’m more than content to stay with my simple A-B-Cs. The birds and bees, butterflies and flowers, oceans and sunsets. I already see in them more than enough glimpses of Himself and of me.

Is Himself content with simple A-B-Cs? I don’t know, but if he’ll let me be content with my Primer right here on this earth, I’ll gladly leave the Skies and all other locked mysteries to Himself and the learned theologians.

Something like this. Maybe….

Hoping your Sabbath Primer is filled with mysteries that point to Someone greater than ourselves and to the persons we’re invited to become.


© Elouise Renich Fraser, 8 July 2017
Images  found at (Primer), and (Rare Book with Clasps)