, ,

Screen Shot 2017-11-07 at 3.05.45 PM.png

F772B – [Essential oils are wrung]


Essential Oils—are wrung—
The Attar from the Rose
Be not expressed by Suns—alone—
It is the gift of Screws—

The General Rose—decay—
But this—in Lady’s Drawer
Make Summer—When the Lady lie
In Ceaseless Rosemary—


How have I never read this poem by Emily Dickinson before? I was actually just looking for one of my favorite poems about autumn (Dickinson’s “The morns are meeker than they were”) and I ended up reading this one instead, over and over.

Dickinson often referred to the scents of flowers, but this is the only verse I’ve seen (so far) where she’s writing specifically about perfume—and so much more, of course: human ingenuity, the passing of seasons and time and human life, the endurance of art.

I hope you’ll enjoy these lines too.


Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
Dickinson, Emily, 1830-1886. Poems: Packet XXIV, Fascicles 40 (part) and 34 (part). Includes 13 poems, written in ink, dated ca. 1862-1864. Houghton Library – (133d) Essential Oils – are wrung -, J675, Fr772…