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Dickinson’s baptism

Dickinson’s baptism September 2, 2010

A student, Heather Denigan, is working on Emily Dickinson, and pointed me to this remarkable poem about baptism:

I’m ceded, I’ve stopped being theirs;
The name they dropped upon my face
With water, in the country church,
Is finished using now,
And they can put it with my dolls,
My childhood, and the string of spools
I’ve finished threading too.

Baptized before without the choice,

But this time consciously, of grace

Unto supremest name,
Called to my full, the crescent dropped,
Existence’s whole arc filled up
With one small diadem.

My second rank, too small the first,
Crowned, crowing on my father’s breast,
A half unconscious queen;
But this time, adequate, erect,
With will to choose or to reject.
And I choose — just a throne.

Dickinson, renouncing her baptism as a childish toy, shows a deeper understanding of what baptism entails than many who continue in the faith.


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