The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0713 Tuesday, 16 March 2004
From: Dennis Taylor <
Date: Tuesday, 16 Mar 2004 09:46:23 -0500
Subject: Dickinson Poem
Here's a stab at interpretation of the Dickinson poem:
Elizabeth told Essex
That she could not forgive
The clemency of Deity
That secondary succor
We trust that she partook
When suing--like her Essex
For a reprieving Look--
Elizabeth, following the Protestant/Calvinist line, insisted on
predestination versus mercy won by works or anything we do (like praying
for mercy, and expecting God to change his design). That is, she could
not forgive, or consider acceptable, a notion of God as "clemency."
HOWEVER, in death Elizabeth probably hoped for a little mercy after all
(to be let off the hook for her sins), and so came crawling to God,
praying for mercy, as Essex had begged mercy from her, when he was under
order of execution. Perhaps it is important that Essex was associated
with various dissident groups, including Catholics, and so might be seen
as a less than observant Calvinist.
Another interesting crux: how do listserv members interpret Eliot's
mention of Elizabeth and Leicester in The Waste Land?
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