Posts Tagged ‘Helen Vendler’

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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