Depending on the poetry collection you read, you will find to be the poem “Crumbling is not an instant’s Act” listed as poem 997 or 1010. This poem shows that everything can be broken, including the soul.
You can chain me, you can torture me, you can even destroy this body, but you will never imprison my mind.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869 – 1948)
What is a quote by Gandhi doing in an article about a poem written by Emily Dickinson? To start: during a period of time, they were contemporaries. Nowadays, both are still considered to be an example. We would not go as far, to compare Dickinson to Gandhi. That would be a comparison that is way, way out of balance. This quote from Gandhi is all about how he felt when it came to the oppression. According to his beliefs, the British colonial rulers weren’t able to stop the wish for the people of India to gain independence. They could destroy his body, but they would not be able to capture his soul. This conflicts with the thoughts of Dickinson, based on this poem.
Crumbling in the poem written by the Belle of Amherst is that thing that shows decay. It shows that all things come to an ending. Dickinson decided to take it a step further. Failure isn’t something that is there all of a sudden. There are signs that this failure will be the result of decay. It is a slow process and will arrive at some point. This idea conflicts with the ideas of Gandhi, as believed in (the) immortality. Yes, Dickinson believed in immortality, but according to this poem, even the soul can be broken at some point. Whether it is a natural process or not, it will arrive.
This might not be the most positive poem that Dickinson left us. The forecast is kind of negative. This is also what Dickinson was all about. Those dark thoughts she had and was able to transfer them into poetry. It takes impressive writing skills to do this. With this poem, she placed herself into the same poetic niche as poets such as Edgar Allan Poe or Robert Frost. It also shows, that with Dickinson you can “go” in so many directions. Most of all, it shows that we humans should be more humble. More humble than some of us perhaps…
Poem 997: “Crumbling is not an instant’s Act”
Crumbling is not an instant’s Act
A fundamental pause
Are organized Decays —
‘Tis first a Cobweb on the Soul
A Cuticle of Dust
A Borer in the Axis
An Elemental Rust —
Ruin is formal — Devil’s work
Consecutive and slow —
Fail in an instant, no man did
Slipping — is Crashe’s law —
Image source: Andre_Grunden