Image and Description for Poem #675

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 –

The rose does not die of natural causes “Suns”, but by being wrung out through “Screws”.  Screws is a process that uses a machine to “express” the oil out of a rose for perfume.

In “Emily Dickinson A Poet’s Grammar” by Cristanne Miller, she describes the poem and how it relates to the femininity of the 19th century woman. Women had to prove themselves pure by sacrificing their life through “the gift of screws”.  Screws, being the pain endured, through hard work of raising the kids, or her dedication to poetry,  without any recognition during their life time.  In the end however, Christanne Miller describes it as, “whether perfume, a purer soul, or poetry-will out last its maker, even if it is hidden away from the world.  It is like a sachet that scents the underclothes of a ‘Lady’s Drawer’ and provides the lingering, underlying scent of her life.  The Lady may die, but her expressed essence continues to create, be fertile, ‘Make Summer.’ That essence, in turn can give Attar or underlying scent, meaning, to other lives.”(p.3)

There is another description of the poem that is completely opposite.  This is what is so interesting about her poetry, it can be interpreted  in many ways, but still be very legit.  It’s as though Dickinson foresees the life of a more contemporary woman, a strong sexual woman, who uses her perfume, “Attar”, to scent her drawers. Miller writes, “Drawer(s) may be ‘undergarment’ or ‘that which draws or attracts, or has the power of attraction’ as well as ‘a sliding box in a case or table, which is drawn at pleasure.’ Itself the product of ‘Screws’ ‘Essential Oil’ in ‘Lady’s Drawer / Make Summer,’ or brings the time of fertility, ‘When the Lady lie . . .’ As manipulator of ‘Screws.’” (Miller, p.4 )

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