I think just how my shape will rise—
When I shall be “forgiven”—
Till Hair—and Eyes—and timid Head—
Are out of sight—in Heaven—

I think just how my lips will weigh—
With shapeless—quivering—prayer—
That you—so late—“consider” me—
The “sparrow” of your care—

I mind me that of Anguish—sent—
Some drifts were moved away—
Before my simple bosom—broke—
And why not this—if they?

And so I con that thing—“forgiven”—
By my long bright—and longer—trust—
I drop my Heart—unshriven!

Emily Dickinson, Poem 252

In 1992 the Oscar for Best Picture went to the Clint Eastwood film Unforgiven.  It’s a story about a bitter man trying to cope with the circumstances of his life.  The movie seemed to strike a true note with many people because all of us have experienced unfair pain and injustice, and we all know the temptation to nurse our bitterness until it either destroys us or compels us to lash out.  It’s the darkest side of selfishness.

In the Dickinson poem I selected for today, the poet longs for the day when she will escape this world and go to heaven. She imagines the freedom of forgiveness. This is not to be however and the poem ends with the sad word ‘unshriven’ which means the state of not having confessed sins or having received absolution.  Why?  Why would a person hold on to bitterness against another person to the point that it keeps them from God?  It makes no sense but we all do it.

Don’t let a grudge against someone else keep you from God.


James 2:13

For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.


Dig Deeper – The Gorgeous Nothings by Emily Dickinson

Check it out by clicking HERE



One thought on “Unforgiven

  1. Thank you for this beautiful and import-to-the-soul message, Rick. Reminds me of the quote (which has many variations and is attributed to many different people): “Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”


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