DEPARTURE: Crossing the Threshold
“I started Early – Took my Dog –”, by Emily Dickinson
Crossing the Threshold
If you’ve been following along with the Hero’s Poetry Journey, it’s taken a few weeks for heroes like us to actually get started. (In our defense, we had a lot of stuff to do.) But now we’re packed up and heading out — dog in tow.
This is the end of the beginning.
“I started Early – Took my Dog”
A threshold is a gate or a door. It separates Here from There, Before from After. Every day we cross the thresholds of dawn and dusk — both of which are perfect times to walk.
Emily Dickinson started early and took her dog, Carlo. A walk with a canine increases your readiness to cross other thresholds with a companion whose instincts and nose are attuned to things yours are not. A good dog is less than a mentor, more than a sidekick.
In this poem Dickinson describes a visit to the threshold of thresholds: the sea. She encounters mermaids, frigates, and the tide itself. By the end of the poem she is different. The next stage of the journey — trial — has begun.
Buckle up, Dandelion.
Be a Hero
Do you know who else took a hero’s journey with the sea? Max, of Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are. Sendak adored Dickinson’s poetry and kept a pocket copy of her work with him wherever he went. If you don’t own a copy of this classic children’s book, check one out from your library, then read Dickinson’s poem again, noting the similarities.
Wild things are up ahead. But at our story’s end there will be supper, and it will still be hot.
Try to learn a little of this poem by heart.
What does it say about your hero’s journey?
If you like, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Megan Willome has captured the essence of crow in this delightful children’s collection. Not only do the poems introduce the reader to the unusual habits and nature of this bird, but also different forms of poetry as well.”
—Michelle Ortega, poet and children’s speech pathologist