A Wounded Deer and a Perceived Writer

“A wounded deer leaps the highest.” – Emily Dickinson

This marks my 100th post. 🙂 And what better way to honor this accomplishment than by discussing one of Emily Dickinson’s poems.

“A Wounded Deer Leaps the Highest” is a remarkable poem, and the sentence alone is beautifully written, but I have to admit that my first thought was that Emily Dickinson had lost her mind. I mean, a wounded deer leaps the highest? A wounded deer? Pretty sure that suckers down for the count. Maybe back in the 19th century they did – when zombies were running a muck at Pemberly – but nowadays they’ve seemed to accept their fate with much more grace.

Now of course Emily Dickinson was a smart young (reclusive) woman who probably knew that, but she was an extremely creative and poetic individual who put such meaning into her words that you can take her poems anyway you want. That’s the beauty behind her work; she can speak to generations of people just by how they interpret her poems. This one sentence is no different.

Out of curiosity, I googled what others thought of this one sentence, and these were the top 3 interpretations I found:

–  People who suffer often do remarkable things.

–  People who are fighting for their lives and something precious that’s at stake will exceed by extraordinary means.

–  The wounded deer leaps so that it doesn’t let anyone know that its hurt, leaping higher so that no one sees its pain.

One sentence. She did it in one sentence. Just six words convey strength, heartache, determination, loneliness, bravery, and even encouragement. Emily Dickinson proved that even a wounded deer that has no probability of ever rising again after being hunted can leap higher than its healthy companions. That the perceived weak are actually the strongest.

Its just a poem, but how many of us have ever felt that same way? How many of us leap highest in our darkest hour, even if that leap is just stringing words together into a story that moves only us? We might be part philosopher and part artist, but we will always and forever be writers going beyond what other people have perceived us to be: wounded deer with no chance of rising.

emily dickinson poem

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