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Much Madness

Cy Kellett

We approach now March Madness, about which I have nothing to say, except this: every year when it comes, I am reminded of Emily Dickinson.

A non-sequitur? Well, more of a free association.

She wrote one of my favorite poems. I am no great reader or memorizer of poetry, but if a poem strikes me, I am loyal to it forever. Here is my favorite Dickinson poem (number 620):

Much Madness is divinest Sense –

To a discerning Eye –

Much Sense – the starkest Madness –

’Tis the Majority

In this, as all, prevail –

Assent – and you are sane –

Demur – you’re straightway dangerous –

And handled with a Chain –

For years now, whenever someone has started a conversation about March Madness, I have responded—and I realize this is weird—by saying, “March Madness is divinest sense.” I can’t help myself. No one has ever caught my Dickinson reference, and if they did, I would probably faint from shock.

Much Madness is divinest Sense –

To a discerning Eye –

Much Sense – the starkest Madness –

These lines should give every twenty-first-century Christian a boost. If our morals, to say nothing of our doctrines, seem mad in this age, we do well to remember that much madness is, in fact, divinest sense. If it is only faith that gives us the discerning eye to see the sense in it, then we should not give up on faith but seek always to share it and spread it.

I used to think that Ms. Dickinson ended this one with a tinch too much drama. Is it true that if you don’t go along with the majority, “you are straightway dangerous” and will be “handled with a Chain”?

In recent years I have come to think she was more prophetic than melodramatic.

Enjoy March Madness.

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