I have to say that by no means all of Emily Dickinson’s verse speaks to me; this deceptively simple poem does, though I’m reluctant to analyse it too much and lose it. But ‘docile as a boy’? Sometimes a boy is docile and easily led and the sea can be docile, sometimes. ‘Along appointed sands’, as here in Margate, seen from another poet’s perch, the shelter where Eliot wrote. ‘Obedient to the least command’ does not sound like a statement of fact, more a statement of intent: from a storm-tossed Kent, I pray that the Good Shepherd will lead us beside quiet waters this year of Our Lord 2021.
The moon is distant from the sea,
And yet with amber hands
She leads him, docile as a boy,
Along appointed sands.
He never misses a degree;
Obedient to her eye,
He comes just so far toward the town,
Just so far goes away.
Oh, Signor, thine the amber hand,
And mine the distant sea, —
Obedient to the least command
Thine eyes impose on me.”
Series 2, Love XIII from Poems by Emily Dickinson, Three Series, Complete