Love reckons by itself—alone—
“As large as I”—relate the Sun
To One who never felt it blaze—
Itself is all the like it has—

by Emily Dickinson



What does reckon mean? Reckon is to calculate,to accept something as certain, place reliance.

What does love mean? Love is many things. The sun says immense.

Love reckons by itself. It seems ackward to say love can calculate itself. Can it mean love can measure itself? And the Sun answers, as large as I. The sun is exhaustible, almost eternal though we know it’s finite. That’s what love is,ED says.

Love is hard to describe accurately. But those who had been in love and experienced it, felt what it is. Even them are lost for words to describe. The first line is almost asking the question: Have you ever been in love? Itself is the like it has. It seems to say: there is nothing like it.It has to be experienced. Does it mean that ED is describing what she had experienced? Or ED is saying: I’m in love.To be in love is to be ablazed, on fire, like the sun. Love is undescribable and consuming.

Why alone? Because love is sufficient by itself and doesn’t need any descriptions. It will only be all the like.

What about those who had never been in love, the One who never felt it blaze.?They can only observe those who are in love but it is only a reflection of what is experienced. One can only say love is like…?

An article in the Guardian,UK of What Is Love:Love

says what love is:

A theoritical physicist says “love is basically chemistry” citing released of different brain chemicals.

A psychotherapist says “love has many guises” and she cited the different types of love.

A philosopher says “love is a passionate commitment.”

A writer says what love does: “Love drives all great stories.”

Sr. Catherine, a Benedictine nun says what love does: “Love is free yet binds us.” She says we encouter “love: in the life of another – in acts of kindness, generosity and self-sacrifice.Love is life’s greatest blessing.”

ED seems to say love is all these things and more.

Or is this love one of the POSSIBILITIES from the House of Possibility? To write poetry or prose or simply write is like being in love. One becomes attentive, starts to listen, becomes caring. One who is in love notices what’s happening around, words become a song, stories heard become treasures. A writer cherishes small moments. To be in love is to be patient, sensitive, passionate.A writer when ablazed with her works, works alone, alone with her muse.

“Love has many guises”.


Can you distinguish which one?

“I Died for Beauty”
By Emily Dickinson

I died for beauty, but was scarce
Adjusted in the tomb,
When one who died for truth was lain
In an adjoining room.

He questioned softly why I failed?
“For beauty,” I replied.
“And I for truth,—the two are one;
We brethren are,” he said.

And so, as kinsmen met a night,
We talked between the rooms.
Until the moss had reached our lips,
And covered up our names.


My reflections
I start with a question: Why did Dickinson started with death? Truth and Beauty could be 2 kinsmen or kinswomen sitting side by side on a park bench.
Or they could be jogging or walking on a path. One answer is Death is a mystery and Dickinson considered Truth and Beauty mysteries. And mystery is an eternal question which we can study and learn until death.

Mystery invites answers. Dickinson began the thread: “The two are one”. Truth and Beauty are symmetrical and mirror copy of each other. I have a link about Symmetry. link:
She did not define Truth or Beauty and left definition for the readers.

What is Beauty? For me, Beauty is purity and harmony. What is Truth?
Truth is integrity and permanence. Because they are mirror image or reflection of each we can interchange the anwers.

Beauty and Truth may not demand answers but clarification. Should I look for meanings? Should I look for examples?

If I look for meaning, Beauty and Truth lead me to God. God is permanence and perfection.

If I look for examples, Beauty and Truth lead me to Love. Love is purity and integrity.

I think Emily Dickinson asked parallel question: Would you die for love? Would you be true to yourself and follow your art (or heart) and not the herd?

Would you die for God? For your faith? Would you die for your country?
Would you die for your principles?

These are eternal questions, we can think and write about them “until the moss had reached our lips” we will not have exhausted the answers and they will remain undistinguishable from each other, their names both covered with moss.

Maybe Dickinson was also reminding us of time. Have you declared your love to someone you love? Have you thought about God? Sometimes time ends abruptly.

note: I’m taking an eCourse, Ten Premodern Poems by Women, through Stanford University