'Twas like a Maelstrom, with a notch

by Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson


'Twas like a Maelstrom, with a notch,
That nearer, every Day,
Kept narrowing its boiling Wheel
Until the Agony

Toyed coolly with the final inch
Of your delirious Hem-
And you dropt, lost,
When something broke-
And let you from a Dream-

As if a Goblin with a Gauge-
Kept measuring the Hours-
Until you felt your Second
Weigh, helpless, in his Paws-

And not a Sinew-stirred-could help,
And sense was setting numb-
When God-remembered-and the Fiend
Let go, then, Overcome-

As if your Sentence stood-pronounced-
And you were frozen led
From Dungeon's luxury of Doubt
To Gibbets, and the Dead-

And when the Film had stitched your eyes
A Creature gasped "Reprieve"!
Which Anguish was the utterest-then-
To perish, or to live?

Last updated June 21, 2015