I know some lonely houses off the road A robber'd like the look of, - Wooden barred And windows hanging low, Inviting to A portico, Where two could creep: One hand the tools, The other peep To make sure all's asleep. Old-fashioned eyes, Not easy to surprise! How orderly the kitchen'd look by night, With just a clock, - But they could gag the tick, And mice won't bark; And so the walls don't tell, None will. A pair of spectacles agar just stir - An almanac's aware. Was it the mat winked, Or a nervous star? The moon slides down the stair To see who's there. There's plunder, - where? Tankard, or spoon, Earring, or stone, A watch, some ancient brooch To match the grandmama, Staid sleeping there. Day rattles, too, Stealth's slow; The sun has got as far As the third sycamore. Screams chanticleer, "Who's there?" And echoes, trains away, Sneer - "Where?" While the old couple, just astir, Think that the sunrise left the door ajar! (from Selected Poems of Emily Dickinson, this volume published 2016)
I read this odd yet interesting poem the other day. I would hardly think Emily Dickinson was the burglar type, but I do believe she had a vivid imagination. And so she penned this little poem about the houses down the road. Maybe she passed them on her way to and from town. Maybe she lay awake one night listening to the sounds of her own house and imagining robbers coming through her own kitchen. She describes everything that witnesses the robbery: the clock, the mice, the spectacles, the almanac, even the moon. Then, as morning dawns and the chanticleer (the rooster) calls out, “Who’s there?”, the robbers have left only an echo behind them. “Where?”
I really like the last line about imagining that the sunrise left the door ajar. The poor couple! I hope this poem stemmed from Dickinson’s imagination and that she was not writing about a robbery that really took place.