Thursday, March 31, 2011

Poetry Countdown: Women's History Month--#1

A Man may make a Remark -
In itself - a quiet thing
That may furnish the Fuse unto a Spark
In dormant nature - lain -

Let us divide - with skill -
Let us discourse - with care -
Powder exists in Charcoal - 
Before it exists in Fire -

I couldn't do it. I was all set to place Emily Dickinson #2 in my Poetry Countdown in honor of Women's History Month. But then I typed that poem and realized that there was no way that Dickinson could be any place but #1.

Let me be upfront...I don't find pleasure in every Dickinson poem. However, I am awed by the complexities and intricacies of nearly every one of them. Fear not--there are plenty that I really do love, though. Like this one...

Fame is a bee.
It has a song--
It has a sting--
Ah, too, it has a wing.

The fact that this was written in the mid-19th century always strikes me. 150 years later, fame is still a bee, to say the least. Would you call her before her time? It seems from what I know of her biography, that she wasn't the perfect fit in her time period. At least that's my take. Maybe she wouldn't have fit in anywhere.

On to another gem...

They shut me up in Prose –
As when a little Girl
They put me in the Closet –
Because they liked me “still”   –

Still! Could themself have peeped –
And seen my Brain – go round –
They might as wise have lodged a Bird
For Treason – in the Pound –

Himself has but to will
And easy as a Star
Look down opon Captivity –
And laugh – No more have I –

I wish she was still around today because I'd love to hear her explain her dashes and capitalization (as if she'd tell me). I'd also love to hear her take on 21st century life. Although, again, a lot of her work is timeless. And I do especially enjoy the poems where she acts very un-Emily-like:

Wild nights - Wild nights!
Were I with thee
Wild nights should be
Our luxury!

Futile - the winds -
To a Heart in port -
Done with the Compass -
Done with the Chart!

Rowing in Eden -
Ah - the Sea!
Might I but moor - tonight -
In thee!

There are so many Dickinson poems. It's impossible to choose a few to leave you with. So here are her pages at the Poetry Foundation and at Each has a bio and links to numerous poems. Dive in. Enjoy. Bask in her genius.

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