Posts Tagged ‘Emily Dickinson’

I love reading and thinking about ED.  I have a big appetite for ED scholarship.  Dickinson: Selected Poems and Commentaries by Helen Vendler is a holiday feast followed by a present.  Outstanding, but not for everyone.

This analysis of the most difficult ED poems is not for the reader looking for light entertainment, or quiet repose before falling asleep.  This is not for the writer of sweet poems for family gatherings or memorial services.

If you are a person who thinks they are well above mediocrity in interpreting ED, then buy yourself a really big surprise.  If you know someone who works hard at this strangest of professions, then buy them the best gift they may get this decade.

Given the thousands of chances to slip up or make a big gaffe, Vendler comes through with only a couple of incidental scratches.

For #1593 He ate and drank the precious Words – Vendler consistently refers to priest when for ED it would have been minister.  She may have never seen a Catholic or Orthodox priest.

For #1742 In Winter in my Room Vendler comments the Worm is taken out of ED’s bedroom by ED and tied to something outside before Ed goes away.  When she returns the Worm turned snake is back in her bedroom trailing ED’s string.  Having ED calmly pick up the worm and take it down stairs and out into the cold, now that is kinky.

For #1771 ‘Twas here my summer paused Vendler writes, “The phallic implications of the ‘icicle,’ like those of the worm/snake of ‘In Winter in my Room’ (*1742), may seem evident to us, but they may not have been to Dickinson.”  I would call that a Vendler senior moment.  When was ED ever fuzzy in her scrutiny?  Charles Marlin

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John Rexrode and John Hink        

See Adrian Higgins’ Emily Dickinson’s poetry blooms at New York Botanical Garden exhibit”  at www.washingtonpost.com for 05/26/2010 or visit the New York Botanical Garden at www.nybg.org/

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The Poetry of Birds, edited by Simon Armitage and Tim Dee, is a comfort book, one to keep within easy reach when you need a quiet moment to yourself away from family, work, and the ever present contact with others.  It is not a book to read cover to cover or rush through for that would be a foolish waste of time.  It is organized a bit like a field guide, so you know how to handle it.  Good luck.

When thinking of a title for this short post, the easy, first choice was Emily Dickinson “Hope” is the thing with feathers– but eventually it came down to two finalists.  I chose Mark Doty‘s line from Flit, but I want to close with the other finalist from Walt Whitman‘s The Dalliance of the Eagles She hers, he his, pursuing.  Charles Marlin

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A new book on Emily Dickinson by Brenda Wineapple, White Heat: The Friendship Of Emily Dickinson And Thomas Wentworth Higginson, is an excellent opportunity to return to E.D. to again marvel at the unique person who wrote better than any one.  There are insights to thrill you, but if this is your first book on E.D. I suggest you put it off until next season.  Buy it now and put it in a bureau lower drawer for rediscovery.  The lower drawer was E.D.’s hiding place for good stuff.  The first book you want to read and keep is Alfred Habegger’s My Wars Are Laid Away In Books: The Life Of Emily Dickinson.  When you study E.D. remember you are in deep water.  No panic strokes.  Charles Marlin

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