“There’s a certain Slant of light…”

I’m usually up at this time, but busily preparing for work; sadly too busy to notice much else. Today I don’t have to go to work even though it is neither holidays nor a weekend. I have recently switched to working a four day week, gifting me with Mondays full of wonder and promise. An extra day, just for me, to do exactly as I wish. This morning, as I wandered downstairs, the sun was streaming in my kitchen window and although it is far from winter here and morning rather than afternoon, an Emily Dickinson poem was brought to mind.

There's a certain Slant of light,
Winter Afternoons –
That oppresses, like the Heft
Of Cathedral Tunes –

Heavenly Hurt, it gives us –
We can find no scar,
But internal difference –
Where the Meanings, are –

None may teach it – Any –
'Tis the seal Despair –
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the Air –

When it comes, the Landscape listens –
Shadows – hold their breath –
When it goes, 'tis like the Distance
On the look of Death


How I loved Emily Dickinson’s poetry when first introduced to it in senior high school; I greeted her like an old friend when re-encountering her works at university and was devastated when unable to tour her home the day we drove through her home town of Amherst, almost two decades ago.

It’s a depressing poem and seems an odd one for me to gravitate towards. Nevertheless, the first line often pops into my head. As oppressive and afflicting as Emily’s slant of light was, my slant of light this morning is full of the joy, promise and the hope of a new day.

The idea of an oppressive, despairing and snowy New England winter is totally foreign to me. Growing up, we thought our suburban Sydney winters were cold, with frosty mornings and cold winds but never any chance of snow. Now, living in balmy, sub-tropical South-Eastern Queensland, we actually don’t have winter at all. Sure, the humidity drops off and overnight temperatures drop to around 10’C, which is cold for here. We rarely need heating of any kind, although the sun does shine less brightly and even someone with a complexion as pale as mine can get away without wearing sunscreen for a while. If the day’s maximum temperature doesn’t hit twenty degrees, locals bemoan the miserable cold. (true story)

But back to today. It is quite possibly my favourite time of the year; mid-November, when the days are warm but not yet hot, when the humidity is yet to return. The calm before the storm, if you will, the pleasant warmth preceding Summer’s crippling humidity.  This morning a light breeze gently caresses nearby foliage and a variety of birds can both be seen and heard just outside. Gardenias, magnolias and lilly pillies are flowering in my garden of their own accord, with no assistance from my not-so-green thumbs. Blocking out the sounds of nearby traffic already building as others less fortunate than myself start to make their way to work, I sit in my favourite chair, savouring my ‘slant of light’ this late Spring morning, sipping my favourite tea from one of my favourite tea cups and think about the day that is about to begin.

It’s going to be a good one, this bonus day, I can just feel it.

Anna xo



Poem found at https://m.poets.org

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