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In Short Measures


Life is composed of small moments in time.

How many times have we heard something like this said or read something similar on a Facebook meme? But, what does it mean, really? To answer that question, I’m turning to more of my favorite poetry (like last week’s post.) There are two reasons for this. (1) I’m finishing up my 30 poems in 30 days to meet the contest deadline, which means that I’m busy writing, editing, and aggravating. (2) The truly great poets can explain, in short measures, better than I can.

First, we will turn to one of my all-time favorites (and not just because she was a reclusive spinster with a vivid imagination, who only gained popular fame after she died.) That’s right, Emily Dickinson. She was a master of saying big things well, within her small experience, in just a few, quirky lines. This poem speaks to the eternal weight of each small decision that we make in what we think is just a tiny moment of time:


Emily Dickinson

Soul, Wilt thou toss again?
By just such a hazard
Hundreds have lost indeed—
But tens have won an all—

Angel’s breathless ballot
Lingers to record thee—
Imps in eager Caucus
Raffle for my Soul!


Now, we will turn to Ben Johnson (yes, again, if you read last week’s post) whose harsh and tender lines tell beautifully of the human experience of both time and meaning.

After reading both of these poems, think well, my dear readers, about the little things that you do each day and the little ones that you pass on the way of your life. What is your life, but a Symphony of single sounds, a Masterpiece of singular brushstrokes?



Ben Johnson

It is not growing like a tree
In bulk doth make Man better be;
Or standing long an oak, three hundred year,
To fall a log at last, dry, bald, and sere:
A lily of a day Is fairer far in May,
Although it fall and die that night—
It was the plant and flower of light.
In small proportions we just beauties see;
And in short measures life may perfect be.


Original content © 2016 Christina Chase

  photo © 2016  Dan Chase, (of my hand) “Before I Click”

First poem taken from

Emily Dickinson, Complete Poems, 1924,

also found here:

Ben Johnson’s poem found in

A Treasury of Great Poems, compiled by Louis Untermeyer, 1994 edition,

also found here:

Christina Chase View All

Although crippled by disease, I'm fully alive in love. I write about the terrible beauty and sacred wonder of life, while living with physical disability and severe dependency. A revert to the Catholic faith through atheism, I'm not afraid to ask life's big questions. I explore what it means to be fully human through my weekly blog and have written a book: It's Good to Be Here, published by Sophia Institute Press.

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