Monday, April 4, 2016

Poem of the Week 4.4.16

A Short Study of Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson, famous as she is, is perhaps not given the credit she truly deserves. She is most definitely read widely--who doesn't know "I Would Not Stop for Death"--but the literary canon seems to forget that she's published hundreds upon hundreds of poems. I have a copy of The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson that more or less lives on my coffee table, and it's about 700 pages long (and most of her poetry is short!). 

Flipping through the collection is always fun because I find a new poem to love every time. Recently, I've been taken with the short, three or four line poems that pop up every now and again throughout the text. For example:

I hide myself within my flower,
That fading from your Vase,
You, unsuspecting, feel for me --
Almost a loneliness.

They read as moments, or snapshots almost. There's something less formal about them than her longer poems, but they are still decidely Dickinsonian.

c. 1863
So set its Sun in Thee
What Day be dark to me --
What Distance -- far --
So I the Ships may see
That touch -- how seldomly --
Thy Shore?

There are a lot of surprises in this collection of 1775 poems--some proto-feminism, much more religious imagery than I would have thought, and a continually stunning poetic genius. Her imagery jumps of the page and she touches on are somehow both unique and universal. And man, can she use a dash.

By Tom Gauld

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