Once more I find myself disagreeing with Emily: this time with her possibly tongue-in-cheek condemnation of science. However, her light-hearted, joyful acceptance of creation and of death are refreshing and appropriate for Advent. Refreshing too, her final image of the Father lifting her over the stile of pearl into Heaven. I can almost feel those hands, half circling my chest to lift me to himself, though now it is my privilege to lift grandsons to where they need to be. ‘You have to help me’, even when the child is ‘helping’ you.
No pearls on the stiles shown here, but good, solid, dependable limestone, that humans and dogs can get over, perhaps with a little help; that deer can leap with grace, but sheep are too woolly to manage. Not the best image for Heaven’s gate, perhaps, but there again, the stile is not the gate, not the official entrance where the sheep go in. This is a short cut, and it is not Peter or Michael but the Father himself that is watching here, ready to lift the naughty ones into his everlasting arms.
Arcturus is his other name, — I'd rather call him star! It's so unkind of science To go and interfere! I pull a flower from the woods, — A monster with a glass Computes the stamens in a breath, And has her in a class. Whereas I took the butterfly Aforetime in my hat, He sits erect in cabinets, The clover-bells forgot. What once was heaven, is zenith now. Where I proposed to go When time's brief masquerade was done, Is mapped, and charted too! What if the poles should frisk about And stand upon their heads! I hope I 'm ready for the worst, Whatever prank betides! Perhaps the kingdom of Heaven 's changed! I hope the children there Won't be new-fashioned when I come, And laugh at me, and stare! I hope the father in the skies Will lift his little girl, — Old-fashioned, naughty, everything, — Over the stile of pearl!"
(from “Poems by Emily Dickinson, Three Series, Complete” by Emily Dickinson)