Tag Archives: Poetry

We Interrupt This Regularly Scheduled Program…

Right smack in my poetry textbook (Sound and Sense), as I thumbed through it for an assignment, lay stretched out on the page a poem that smacked of Emily D–yet proved to be a tribute.  Here goes:

“I Am in Danger – Sir – “

“Half-cracked” to Higginson, living,
afterward famous in garbled versions,
your hoard of dazzling scraps a battlefield,
now your old snood

mothballed at Harvard and
you in your variorum monument
equivocal to the end –
who are you?

Gardening the day-lily,
wiping the wine-glass stems,
your thought pulsed on behind
a forehead battered paper-thin,

you, woman, masculine
in single-mindedness,
for whom the word was more than a symptom —

a condition of being.
Till the air buzzing with spoiled language
sang in your ears of Perjury

and in your half-cracked way you chose
silence for entertainment,
chose to have it out at last
on your own premises.

Written by Adrienne Rich

Edith:? She’s not here for this one.  I wonder if she knew about Rich’s poem and all its delicious references to Emily Dickinson.

Me: Okay, here I plunge.  First off Higginson jumped out at me. Bang. Having just posted a poem that might have referred to him I was more than aware of his name.  Kind of like buying a red car and all of a sudden the world is filled with red cars on the road.

To look up: variorum (hah–I know what a snood is–do you?)

The second thing I noticed right away was the stylizing, being much like Emily’s with the snippets of vague references and those marvelous dashes and the flippant use of capitalization.  Rich knows her stuff.

Another thing I noticed that while the poem was about Emily Dickinson it very much reminded a singular poem.  I appreciate that kind of talent and ability.

I don’t think I have the energy today to try to understand all the references, allusions, and other literary I-should-knows in this poem.  I have promised myself that once I am done with the project I will dive deep into Dickinson.  Right now I am cautioning against *spoilers*, meaning I want to get to know Emily D without much in the way of someone sidling up to me and whispering, “Did you know?” Nope, I want to get to know Emily straight up on my own.

Does anyone know of other poems that are about Emily?

Thanks for joining my on this journey.


The Dickinson children (Emily on the left), ca...

The Dickinson children (Emily on the left), ca. 1840. From the Dickinson Room at Houghton Library, Harvard University. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The Emily Project: Emily Dickinson, Edith, and Me

Hmm. Old ways do die hard.  I thought I had kicked the procrastination habit by actually completing NaNoWriMo. Unfortunately, this new found euphoria of meeting deadlines did not carry over into the December Photo-A-Day.  I tended to batch hit this project and *chagrin* did not complete all the days.

I have decided on a new challenge and since there are no requirements, deadlines, and other factors I tend to ignore, I should do better.  For the month of January I am launching the Emily Project.

For the month of January and maybe February I am going to focus on poems by Emily Dickinson.  Why Emily?  Truthfully, I hadn’t known of her existence until we began our poetry unit and after reading a couple of her poems I have decided I absolutely love the way Emily D ignores punctuation and speaks from the heart in all those crazy capitalized metaphors. Plus, I came across a really old volume of her poems.  I wanted some cool older books for my bookshelf and found this little green cloth-bound The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson. The inside cover states it was owned by an Edith Strield (?) at one point.  Edith must have adored Emily D as well, since she has left her spidery comments next to quite a few of the poems.  We have always been taught to not write in our books and get hefty fines (and a lecture from the librarian) when we turn in our textbooks at the end of the year.  I like reading Edith’s shadowy comments.  It’s like I’m having a silent conversation with Edith about Emily’s poetry.  Because, quite frankly, I haven’t a clue what the poems are about half, if not all, the time.  Edith might have only one word or just a sentence, and yet that little bit helps me understand what is going on in the poem.

Sometime this week I’ll post my first Emily Project poem.  Until then here are some Emily D facts (thanks Wikipedia):

  • Born December 10, 1830
  • Died May 15, 1886
  • Became a recluse after attending school
  • Known to wear white
  • Fewer than a dozen of her nearly eighteen hundred poems were published during her lifetime
  • Many of her poems deal with themes of death and immortality
  • Lavinia, Emily’s younger sister, discovered her cache of poems after Emily’s death
  • Emily liked Shakespeare, William Wordsworth, and Charlotte Bronte
  • Carlo, was her Newfoundland’s name
  • She wrote over 300 hundred letters to her friend Susan
  • Upon her death her sister burned Emily’s papers (her request) but not her poems and began working on them to get them published
  • Emily was buried in a white coffin
Emily dickinson

Emily Dickinson (Photo credit: Wikipedia)