by Emily Dickinson
Lips unused to Thee—
Bashful—sip thy Jessamines
As the fainting Bee—
Reaching late his flower,
Round her chamber hums—
Counts his nectars—
Enters—and is lost in Balms.
No matter what else might have been true about Emily Dickinson, she could write some hot poems. The virginal lady in white, maybe. But this poem is sexy, no doubt about it.
The slow sounds of that first line "Come slowly--Eden" with those "o" and "e" vowels, followed by the S's in the next lines, create a sensual delight in anticipation of lovemaking. We must move through the poem slowly, slipping from human desire ("lips") to the simile of the bee entering the jessamine blossom. The promise is Eden. The arrival will be slow. The result--to be "lost in balms." And there we are left at the beginning, really, of the lovemaking.
I was looking for a poem about a cold spring, or about spring not coming, or any other sort of weather-related misery I could fall farther into. But then I found this poem and thought: what better cure for the weather than a sexy little poem from our greatest poet? This should keep us warm, then, for a few more weeks.
Here's what might be a new photo of Dickinson, by the way (on the left), with a friend.