Esoteric Time

Esoteric Time

This 19th century New England steeple clock seemed an appropriate repository for one of Emily Dickinson’s untitled poems about time. Originally written on the back of an envelope, it celebrates nature’s clock with the song of the cricket announcing the summer and its cessation heralding its end.

‘T was later when the summer went
Than when the cricket came,
And yet we knew that gentle clock
Meant nought but going home.

‘T was sooner when the cricket went
Than when the winter came,
Yet that pathetic pendulum
Keeps esoteric time.

A symbol of good fortune, crickets were often kept in cages so that their song could be enjoyed, a fate Dickinson might have considered related to the subjugation of women in her time.

The image behind the cricket on the clock’s pendulum is a map of Amherst in the early 1800’s showing Dickinson’s home. The only currently authenticated photograph of Dickinson is from the Amherst College Archives & Special Collections.

This is a unique book.
20” x 11” x 4.5”
Wood, glass, metal, prints on transparent film.