Category Archives: Writing

The Emily Project: Part One/Life–XI (Much Madness)

It's... Madness Too

It’s… Madness Too (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Edith offered only a check on this one, which means I am stopping without the help of her usual notes.




Much madness is divinest sense


To a discerning eye;


Much sense the starkest madness.


’T is the majority


In this, as all, prevail.


Assent, and you are sane;


Demur, – you’re straightway dangerous,


And handled with a chain.



Edith: I could have really used a bit more help on this one besides a check.



Me: Craziness.  I can relate to operating outside of what it considered the norm. I do know that some of more famous people of history were considered crazy.  Think about DaVinci–helicopters, back then?  But no padded room from him. He was considered a genius.  So who decides the line between madness and genius? Emily notes that if you go with the crowd you are considered sane and should you go against the flow then you get clipped with the chain.  Did she speak from experience or observation?  Wearing white and going on permanent staycation probably put her on the chain gang.   I have read people referred to her as “The Myth,” which sounds like they knew her to be a bit odd, but were okay with it. Sane or Mad–it comes down to perspective, I think.





The Emily Project: Part One/Life: XII (I Asked No Other Thing)

Deutsch: Thomas Wentworth Higginson

Deutsch: Thomas Wentworth Higginson (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Edith has deemed this one  an *.  Hmmm…


I asked no other thing,
No other was denied.
I offered Being for it;
The mighty merchant smiled.


Brazil? He twirled a button,
Without a glance my way:
“But, madam, is there nothing else
That we can show to-day?”


Edith: a cryptic asterisk, a light pencil underlining of “merchant” and “Mr Higginson” off to the side.


Me: Can I get a vowel, please?  Really.  Not much to go on here.  This is a giant puzzle. I get the sense of wish fulfillment, as if Emily were looking for something and didn’t quite get what she wanted.  Now, if Emily didn’t travel far from home Brazil would seem a mighty long way away.  Is Brazil a metaphor of sorts for wanting the impossible, and is the merchant trying to convince her Brazil is out of her reach.  By capitalizing “Being” I attach immediate importance, and naturally I think of God.  Did Emily ask God for something specific, yet did not receive the answer she wanted, perhaps with some disappointment having received all else she had asked.  Mr Higginson. I came across his name when initially researching about Emily and he becomes very important to her. I know he became a mentor and they corresponded over the years. Edith? Are you holding out on me?  What do you know about Thomas Wentworth Higginson?




The Emily Project: Part One/Life–XIII (The Soul Selects Her Own Society)

Image: Emily dickinson journal.gif

Image: Emily dickinson journal.gif (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The soul selects her own society,
Then shuts the door;
On her divine majority
Obtrude no more.

Unmoved, she notes the chariot’s pausing
At her low gate;
Unmoved, an emperor is kneeling
Upon her mat.

I’ve known her from an ample nation
Choose one;
Then close the valves of her attention
Like stone.

Edith: gave an asterisk; a parenthesis around “Then shuts the door;” an underline nod to “majority”

Me: Wow! Emily D shows major deepness once again.  Edith, I’m with you on the asterisk, although I don’t think this one is going to be a favorite, I definitely think it is noteworthy.

First of all, the idea of personifying the soul, even though the soul is who we are as a person, the way Emily states “soul” it becomes an entity entirely separate, and this one has a queenly air.  “Selecting society” reminds me of those old movies we watch in class where Queen Elizabeth talks in third person: We are not pleased.  Emily D’s soul selects her own society, sounding like she is very particular who she allows into her confidences.  She’s got that selective hermit thing going on here.

I don’t use “obtrude”in conversations, yet it makes absolute sense in this setting.  Emily is putting on the ritz–she’s the queen of solitude and letting people know that she is accepting only a few select into her company of manners.

ob·trude audio (b-trd, b-) KEY

ob·trud·ed, ob·trud·ing, ob·trudes

  1. To impose (oneself or one’s ideas) on others with undue insistence or without invitation.
  2. To thrust out; push forward.


To impose oneself on others.
Even if you happen to be royalty dropping by in your royal carriage, she may not acknowledge you. A girl’s got to have her own set of standards, I suppose.  She is “unmoved.” I wonder if she had a lot of people knocking at her door to visit.  Playing hard to get, hard to visit, maybe that made a lot of people curious about seeing if they were special enough to get a nod from the queen of solitude.
The last verse confuses me.
“I’ve known her from an ample nation/Choose one;/then close the valves of her attention/Like stone.”
I hear her saying she has known a lot of people, remaining particular about who she takes in as a friend and once she has made up her mind, that’s it–the rock of decision.
I can relate to the need for being selective about friends, and how solitude is a valuable aspect to life. Emily Dickinson takes it to a whole separate level. Although in a classy way.  We are not receiving today. Please and thank you.

The Emily Project: Part One/Life–XIV (Some things that fly)

Bombus polaris, a polar bumble bee

Bombus polaris, a polar bumble bee (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Flying.  I give thoughts to flying.  How I would like to fly and how I am attracted to those things that can fly.  Big fat black bumblebees droning from flower to flower, swallows dipping and swerving about through the summer sky, and fireflies, although I’ve never seen one, I bet they are way cool to come across.

Apparently Emily D thought about flying as well.  Here’s thoughts on her XIV from Part One:

Edith: parentheses around the second stanza. Does that mean a special notation for that particular stanza–makes sense to me if it does.

Me: I like Emily’s short poems.  They tend to pack a quick punch, like a well-placed quip–I’m thinking of Elizabeth Bennet lines from her encounters with Mr. Darcy.

In the first stanza Emily pops off a few things that fly: birds, hours (brilliant!), the bumble-bee and she feels she doesn’t have to lament their passing, which is what elegy means to me, a poem of remorse of something no longer there (as in dead).

In the second stanza Emily talks about some things that don’t fly off, that hang around: grief, hills, eternity.  She says these things don’t “behooveth” her.  Hmm, I’ve come across behoove, as in doing things properly, but behooveth doesn’t come up on my on-line dictionary.  I wonder if Emily is putting a wordplay on “behoove” and on “moveth” making this a hybrid word.  What I hear her saying is sorrow, nature, and life after death are things that she can’t properly get worked up about.

In this stanza Emily gets tricky in her wording.  She says: There are, that resting, rise. I interpret that as acknowledging that some things, after a time, change from one state into another state. Or is she saying, “let’s put that aside for now”? She obviously can’t explain everything there is that she has questions about, like the sky–she knows she can’t explain the sky.

To me Emily is stating how she can’t change the way things are.  Life tends to be a big mystery in many areas of life.

As for Edith and her parentheses -I’m thinking she found comfort in the fact there Emily wrote how grief, hills, and eternity are always with us.  It seemed like a confirmation.

From bumblebees to eternity, Emily D knows how to cover all subjects.

SOME things that fly there be,—
Birds, hours, the bumble-bee:
Of these no elegy.
Some things that stay there be,—
Grief, hills, eternity:         5
Nor this behooveth me.
There are, that resting, rise.
Can I expound the skies?
How still the riddle lies!

The Emily Project: Part One/Life–XVI (To fight aloud is very brave)


Calvary (Photo credit: Osajus)

To fight aloud is very brave –




To fight aloud, is very brave,
But gallanter, I know,
Who charge within the bosom,
The Calvary of  woe.


Who win, and nations do not see,
Who fall, and none observe,
Whose dying eyes, no country
Regards with patriot love,


We trust, in plumed procession,
For such, the angels go,
Rank after rank, with even feet –
And uniforms of snow.
Edith: an asterisk and a check
Me: I think EmilyD had mixed feelings about war and fighting.  She shows her regard and respect by acknowledging how the soldiers fall, often dying for their country unobserved by those they are defending.  Yet, there also is a sadness, like she regrets they have to die: “We trust, in plumed procession/For such the angels go/Rank after rank, with even feet/And uniforms of snow.”  She points out their uniforms, how impressive they are to see, and then makes the comment how they are marching to their death (angels).
I feel the same way about war.  I don’t understand the whole idea of someone or some people deciding to killing is necessary to create peace.  On the other hand, I admire how soldiers go and do their duty and I am thankful they are doing the fighting instead of me.
I imagine this poem on a war memorial somewhere.  Has anyone seen this anywhere?



Jane Calling: Emma Makes Sense

The Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge 2013


Emma Thompson. She’s a definite acting fave of mine.  She can be oh so serious (Howard’s End, for one), funny (Much Ado About Nothing), surprising (Stranger Than Fiction), and even silly (Nanny McPhee). Did you know she can also write?


I found her book at the library when I was checking out all the different movie versions of Sense and Sensibility.  I knew she had written the screenplay for the 1995 adaptation, but I didn’t know I could read it.  


Product Details



Here are some takeaways from reading her book:


  • it took about 15 years to actually get SandS made into a movie
  • Emma Thompson worked on the script over four years
  • reading a screenplay script is not as easy as it seems
  • although it’s fun to read all the stage directions (Elinor takes his hands gratefully)
  • it’s fascinating to read the story broken down into bits and pieces
  • I “watched” the movie as I read the script
  • I better understood each character having to focus on each of his or her lines
  • I would like to write a screenplay of a novel someday
  • Maybe not


That was the first part of the book–the screenplay.  The second part dealt with Emma Thompson’s diaries while making the movie.  As a writer and an actress it gave her a lot to write about.  My biggest takeaway from reading her diary?


  • Acting is not as glamorous as it looks


I highly recommend reading Emma’s book if you like to learn more about what makes a favorite movie tick, and I learned quite a lot about the 1995 version (one of the movie sheep fainted due to getting too hot from not being sheared–they wanted wooly sheep, not naked sheep for the movie).  Oh, just a heads up–Emma is, well, kind of open in how she writes. She isn’t one to hold back on how she sees things.


 This was an unexpected find and gave me a different insight about Sense and Sensibility.


English: Emma Thompson at the César awards cer...

English: Emma Thompson at the César awards ceremony. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



Pardon Me, Emily–Jane’s Calling

The Pride Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge (2013)

My commitment to reading great literature (in the form of a challenge to myself) this year began with the Emily Project, my slow acquaintance with Emily Dickinson. I am now increasing my challenge commitment (that nasty procrastination problem is rearing again) and adding The Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge 2013 .

While Emily and I have formed a nodding acquaintance (she’s a little standoffish, but maybe that’s because I don’t know her that well yet), Jane and I go way back.  JA and I have spent a lot of time together, and she is one of those inspiring friends that makes me want to keep coming back and spend even more time with her.

Here are the challenge details:

Challenge Details

Time-line: The Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge 2013 runs January 1, through December 31, 2013.

Levels of participation: Neophyte: 1 – 4 selections, Disciple: 5 – 8 selections, Aficionada: 9 – 12 selections.

Enrollment: Sign up’s are open until July 1, 2013. First, select your level of participation.  Second, copy the Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge 2013 graphic and include it in your blog post detailing the novels or movies that you commit to reading and watching in 2013. Third, leave a comment linking back to your blog post in the comments of this announcement post. If you do not have a blog you can still participate. Just leave your commitment to the challenge in the comments below.

Check Back Monthly: The Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge 2013 officially begins on Wednesday, January 9th, 2013 with my review of the Naxos Audiobooks edition of Pride and Prejudice, read by Emilia Fox. Check back on the 2nd Wednesday of each month for my next review in the challenge.

Your Participation: Once the challenge starts, leave a comment including the book, movie, television, or web series that you finished and a link to your blog review. If you do not have a blog, just leave a comment about what you did read or view with a brief reaction or remark. It’s that easy.

I’m going for totally nuts for JA level: aficionado: 9 – 12 selections.

This means I have to read and review 9-12 Jane Austen selections.  Here is my tentative list.  I hope I can make adjustments. (Mother, may I take two baby-steps?)

  1. Pride and Prejudice–the Laurence Oliver version to kick off the 200th anniversary
  2. The Colin Firth PP series
  3. And then Kiera Knightley’s version
  4. Throw in the Lost in Austen for good measure
  5. Sense and Sensibility (the book)
  6. Emma Thompson’s 1995 Sense and Sensibility version (yay–I’ve been meaning to watch it again!)
  7. The 1981 BBC Sense and Sensibility
  8. The BBC 2008 Sense and Sensibility
  9. Jane Regrets–a BBC production about the supposed regrets JA might have had in regards to her love life
  10. The Sense and Sensibility Screenplay and Diaries by Emma Thompson (didn’t know this existed!)
  11. The Lake House (because the movie revolves around the plot of Persuasion and even uses the book as the metaphorical prop–haha how is that use this week’s literary term, Mrs. Fieldstone?
  12. Maybe I’ll finish off with Northhanger Abbey (movie or book?)

Oh, I have to stop at 12?  Maybe I will be switching things around.  I did just watch the Kiera Knightely version over Christmas Break.  “And Goddess Divine for everyday.”  JA might not have said that, but I relish that line in the movie.

So, I will be switch hitting between Emily and Jane for now.  Unless I get really crazy and add in another challenge.  I did check out a juggling book from the library to go with that set of juggling sacks I got as a gift (to myself).

The JA Gallery of Can’t-Wait-to-Watch

Cover of "The Lake House"

Cover of The Lake House


Detail of a C. E. Brock illustration for the 1...

Detail of a C. E. Brock illustration for the 1895 edition of Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice (Chapter 3) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

pride and prejudice

pride and prejudice (Photo credit: Apostolos Letov)

Cover of "Sense & Sensibility (Special Ed...