Sometimes a Worm Is Just a Worm

I don’t believe that worms in Emily Dickinson’s poetry must all be phallically symbolic.  Intentionally or unintentionally, she may never have made this worm/penis connection.

But some critics insist this is so.  Some say Dickinson had a dread of male sexuality, or that she harbored an incestuous desire for her brother, or that she is gay.

In one poem she wrote, “I came upon a Worm — Pink, lank and warm –”  and in another poem she wrote about “A narrow Fellow in the Grass” that made her feel “Zero at the Bone–”  Psychoanalysts and literary critics alike made the appropriate connections.

She loved other people with a 19th century sensibility.  She used intimate language with her family and friends, but that was the way of the world  back then. The love she expressed for her sister-in-law exuded an intimacy that a modern person may find odd and perhaps gay.  Her empathy with others was often so strong, she suffered along with them through their illnesses and deaths.

She also loved nature; her garden, birds, and flowers.  She spent many days in her garden or gazing out at it from her window.

But she always had an eye on eternity.  This sweet life on earth is so temporary that it seems to mean so little in the face of eternity.

The lowly worm is a garden companion in life and a great leveler at the end of life.  The worm approaches the corpse in the ground, crawls through the flesh, decomposes the temporal body back into dust.  How efficient and necessary. And what can be more intimate than this final intercourse between worm and flesh lying together in the grave?  Human lust is just a flicker in the flame.

3 responses to “Sometimes a Worm Is Just a Worm

  1. I’ve been enjoying reading your blog. I love your sense of humor, and I just had to comment on this post. I find it annoying how deeply some people feel they need to analyze a poem or story. Like you said, “sometimes a worm is just a worm.” It really irritates me when someone tries to draw a connection about a worm being a penis or if Robert Frost’s horse thinks something is “queer” then that meant Frost was gay. It’s ridiculous and far reaching in my opinion.

    I think we do forget sometimes to put the text in perspective of the time frame it was written in. I agree with everything you’ve written here, and I’m glad I hooked up with another lover of Dickinson!

    • I can’t believe someone reads my blog! Only my husband and two friends know about it. My husband never reads it and my friends won’t tell anyone else.

      I can understand how the gay population would want to claim Emily Dickinson as one of their own. She is one great poet. But I think her struggles are more of the spiritual sort and not physical. I read all of her poetry and many of her letters and that’s just my opinion. After all, I too am a Nobody.

  2. Your writing is fantastic! I love your sense of humor. I was also excited that someone else read my blog. I have a feeling that you and I could be kindred spirits to Ms. Dickinson. I was just wondering if Dickinson would be blogging her thoughts were she around today. I’m going to put a link to your site on my blog. Maybe that will help with bringing you more traffic. I’ve had at least 5 or 6 people read my blog…haha! Every little bit counts.

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