Thursday, June 22, 2006

Emily Dickinson

For some time now, I have been deeply fascinated by Emily Dickinson's strikingly original work. Her poems stand out as a unique chapter in the history of literature. Putting yourself in her shoes, in 1850-80 Amherst, MA, looking backwards and forwards at the line of poets and literates, you won't find many - if any - poets like her.

She is, of course, known as "The Queen Recluse" as she gradually withdrew from society and from the early sixties never set foot outside her house. You can have all sorts of opinions and interpretations of her choosing to act this way, but I dare say that had she been married and hence drawn into the normal busy life a family would demand, we certainly would not have the great amount of startling poetry from her hand that we now do.

Having of course a fine mind and the nature of questioning and searching and pondering, she would always have left an imprint of herself. But we would never have been able to take part in her originality and quality of mind.

As she so stands out in the landscape of literature, not merely picking up the thread left by some earlier poet, she also manages to be closer to us than many other writers whose work is coloured by the time in which they were written. Today, tomorrow - she will probably remain in the canon of the best poets in human history because of her sharpness, her direct approach to and expression of her thoughts/mental images and her original but enchanting and many-layered imagery. Her metaphors are quivering with life, leaving you with no doubt of her being in possession of her own language and that she is embodying it.

I would like to end this post with a poem I think is beautiful, strong and somewhat ethereal. And it is about poets!

I will probably return to Emily in the future. She is too marvellous to be left in the shadows.


I reckon - when I count at all -
First - Poets - then the Sun -
Then Summer - Then the Heaven of God -
And then - the List is done -

But, looking back - the First so seems
to Comprehend the Whole -
The Others look a needless Show -
So I write - Poets - All -

Their Summer - lasts a Solid Year -
They can afford a Sun
The East - would deem extravagant -
And if the Further Heaven -

Be Beautiful as they prepare
For Those who worship Them -
It is too difficult a Grace -
To justify the Dream -

Emily Dickinson,
ca 1862

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