An Antiquated Tree
Is cherished of the Crow
Because that Junior Foliage is disrespectful now
To venerable Birds
Whose Corporation Coat
Would decorate Oblivion’s
As with most of Dickinson’s poems, I don’t try to understand them. I simply imagine her sitting at her desk, by her window, noticing and writing. In this poem, I assume she has noticed a crow, watched carefully, and written.
When I read a crow poem — and they are legion — I first look to see if the poet has captured Crow’s essence. This crow prefers an “Antiquated Tree” because those young ones don’t show the proper respect to such a “venerable” bird as he. Yes, Dickinson knows exactly what bird she is looking at.
Her crow wears a “Corporation Coat,” which might mean he’s pot-bellied (skinny crows are rare). It could also refer to the fact that crows are seldom found alone. They travel in pairs and live in groups.
But most important is the end, where Dickinson calls Crow “Oblivion’s / Remotest Consulate.” He’s got his own embassy, and he’s here to introduce us to the delights of darkness. I think Dickinson would respond, Sign me up, Sir. Show me around.