Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Emily Dickinson Dysfunction, Part 2

I might not have ever come back to Emily Dickinson, except that I felt I had to cover her to some extent in the Modern Poetry course. Almost all the textbooks credit Whitman and Dickinson as being important forerunners to Modern Poetry. While discussing Dickinson, however, I had to admit to my students that I felt as though I was being "busted," my lack of appreciation for her work made real in front of my captive audience. Some of the students spoke of their appreciation for her work; others fell in my camp, not totally turned off to her but rather perplexed regarding her work.

Subsequently, I have made it my goal to get to know Emily as best I can.

I used to be disappointed in myself for not being a fast learner, for being someone who had to struggle toward enlightenment. But now I recognize that for me the struggle is part of the blessing. Getting to know Emily and to admire her work (as I feel I am capable of doing) is going to be a significant journey for me.

As it has turned out, I share more with Emily than I ever could have imagined.

Although in the past I have been put off by her stark style, her ambiguous punctuation and capitalization, the contradictory interpretations of her work that perplex, I am just now coming to know the brilliant possibilities of her poetry.

More to come.

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Dreaming

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"I was no better than dust, yet you cannot replace me. . . Take the soft dust in your hand--does it stir: does it sing? Has it lips and a heart? Does it open its eyes to the sun? Does it run, does it dream, does it burn with a secret, or tremble In terror of death? Or ache with tremendous decisions?. . ." --Conrad Aiken

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Fave Painting: Eden

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The Secret of Hurricanes : That article in the Waterville Scout said it was Shake- spearean, all that fatalism that guides the Kennedys' lives. The likelihood of untimely death. Recently, another one died in his prime, John-John in an airplane. Not long before that, Bobby's boy. While playing football at high speeds on snow skis. Those Kennedys take some crazy chances. I prefer my own easy ways. Which isn't to say my life hasn't been Shake-spearean. By the time I was sixteen, my life was like the darkened stage at the end of Hamlet or Macbeth. All littered with corpses and treachery.

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