01 April 2005

from the days when we knew about death

Mary Rowlandson was captured in a Narragansett Indian raid back in the seventeenth century. This excerpt is from The Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson:

Thus nine dayes I sat upon my knees, with my Babe in my lap, all my flesh was raw again; my Child being even ready to depart this Sorrowfull world, they bade me carry it out to another Wigwam (I suppose because they would not be troubled with such spectacles) Whither I went with a very heavy heart, and down I sat with the picture of death in my lap. About two houres in the night, my Sweet Babe, like a Lambe departed this life, on Feb.18.1675. It being six yeares, and five months old. It was nine dayes from the first wounding, in this miserable condition, without any refreshing of one nature or another, except a little cold water. I cannot but take notice, how at another time I could not bear to be in a room where any dead person was, but now the case is changed; I must and could ly down by my dead Babe, side by side all the night after.

[quoted in Susan Howe's My Emily Dickinson, a remarkable book; in my opinion, Howe gets Dickinson, whereas nearly everyone else I've read doesn't.]

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