Inspired by the poem Faith — is the Pierless Bridge by Emily Dickinson.
There was a picture of a bridge in that open room. It hung off to the side on a wall painted red. The bridge appeared old, made of frayed rope and shaky knots. There were no supports underneath. It simply stretched out into the distance where a murky fog engulfed the end.
Although every wall had a painting, this one stood out because it reflected my faith during that season, balanced on a shaky bridge that you had to creep across with no clear ending in sight. I haven’t seen that picture in about four years. But when I read the poem Faith — is the Pierless Bridge by Emily Dickinson, the image returned easily. Because sometimes faith is a bridge we need to cross to reach a better future.
For we walk by faith, not by sight. ~ 2 Corinthians 5:7 NKJV
Faith — is the Pierless Bridge by Emily Dickinson
Faith — is the Pierless Bridge
Supporting what We see
Unto the Scene that We do not —
Too slender for the eye
It bears the Soul as bold
As it were rocked in Steel
With Arms of Steel at either side —
It joins — behind the Veil
To what, could We presume
The Bridge would cease to be
To Our far, vacillating Feet
A first Necessity.
In the first stanza, Dickinson refers to faith as a pierless bridge. This term was unfamiliar to me, so I did a little research. It turns out that a bridge pier is the supportive structure underneath the bridge that is usually grounded below the water level. These structures keep the bridge sturdy and distribute the weight evenly so the person on the left doesn’t jostle the person on the right.
However, the bridge Dickinson is describing has no such structures. Instead, it is hanging mid-air. On the side closest to us, it is easy to see how the bridge is secured. Nevertheless, the other end of the bridge is beyond our sight, “Too slender for the eye.”
Many will try to tell us not to cross such a bridge of faith. After all, there are no supports, no fallback plan. What if it crumbles beneath our weight? What if the other end is not secure? What if we were wrong for ever attempting such a daring walk of faith? The pestering fears and worries are enough to cripple the best of us. The road ahead simply looks too rickety.
This is where the second stanza chimes in. Dickinson said, “[Faith] bears the Soul as bold.” Faith provides us with everything we need to act with boldness because our faith is founded on something stronger than a pierless bridge. The world calls count the cost and weigh the fear, but God whispers a very different message. “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” ~ Joshua 1:9 NKJV
The moment this boldness floods our hearts, the eroded bridge begins to appear as if made of steel, thoroughly grounded in the promises of God. The railings that once pierced our hands with their coarse rope, now appear firm and stable. With every revelation of God’s providence, the steel stretches down the bridge, transforming it from a risk to a certainty.
However, in the last stanza Dickinson cautions that as long as we remain on the bridge, the boldness of faith is essential. Lest we should reach the middle, doubt, and start to fall when the bridge is the most necessary. Because even as God makes the bridge steady, the strength of our faith can cause it to shake. Peter experienced this phenomenon on the stormy seas of Galilee. In a miraculous moment, Jesus invited Peter to walk across the water. But when Peter looked away from Jesus to his fears, his feet sank.
Jesus holds the same power to make the pierless bridge transform into steel. Nevertheless, in order to walk across without stumbling, we must keep our eyes on Christ. We must nourish our faith and strengthen our souls so we are fit to cross. And above all, we must let God lead the way because faith truly is like a pierless bridge.
All is Grace, Esther Noe
P.S. If you enjoyed this post, don’t forget to like, comment, and share. I’ve written about a few other poems in the past as well. These include The Road Not Taken, Hope is the Thing with Feathers, Do The Next Thing, and A Prayer in Spring. If you have any favorite classic poems you would like to see featured, please let me know!
Disclaimer: I own no rights to this poem. These are simply my reflections on it. All credit goes to Emily Dickinson and her publishers. All text was found on allpoetry.com.