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Saturday, March 19, 2005

Emily/Wikipedia 5 (At Play)

Previously on Salt and Ice: Emily 1, Emily 2, Emily 3, Emily 4.

A little of the more whimsical Emily Dickinson today. Though I suppose it's arguable that whimsy is one of her defining characteristics as a poet, and that her sense of whimsy is often not only her saviour from triteness but is also the key that opens her poetry into brilliant spaces. How about the fly in this poem?


I heard a Fly buzz — when I died —
The Stillness in the Room
Was like the Stillness in the Air —
Between the Heaves of Storm —

The Eyes around -- had wrung them dry —
And Breaths were gathering firm
For that last Onset — when the King
Be witnessed — in the Room —

I willed my Keepsakes — Signed away
What portion of me be
Assignable — and then it was
There interposed a Fly —

With Blue -- uncertain stumbling Buzz --
Between the light — and me —
And then the Windows failed — and then
I could not see to see
And how about those Windows? Another poem with eyes:


Before I got my eye put out
I liked as well to see —
As other Creatures, that have Eyes
And know no other way —

But were it told to me — Today —
That I might have the sky
For mine — I tell you that my Heart
Would split, for size of me —

The Meadows — mine —
The Mountains — mine —
All Forests — Stintless Stars —
As much of Noon as I could take
Between my finite eyes

The Motions of the Dipping Birds —
The Morning's Amber Road
For mine — to look at when I liked —
The News would strike me dead —

So safer — guess — with just my soul
Upon the Window pane —
Where other Creatures put their eyes —
Incautious — of the Sun —
And because we have noon above, let's have midnight below:


When Night is almost done —
And Sunrise grows so near
That we can touch the Spaces
It's time to smooth the Hair —

And get the Dimples ready —
And wonder we could care
For that old — faded Midnight
That frightened — but an Hour —

No links for this last one today. Just enjoy:

We do not play on Graves —

Because there isn't Room —
Besides — it isn't even -- it slants
And People come —

And put a Flower on it —
And hang their faces so —
We're fearing that their Hearts will drop —
And crush our pretty play --

And so we move as far
As Enemies — away —
Just looking round to see how far
It is — Occasionally —


Humble Servant said...

Is "the King" in 465 Death? God? Elvis?

Note the legalistic bits of it--signed away, assignable, willed, witnessed, interposed.

MackJohnny said...

Somehow I missed replying to your comment until now. I had meant to. Sorry about that.

I had noticed the legal bits and wondered if you'd comment on them. Not sure what was going on with those. Might they be connected to this poem, do you think?

341After great pain, a formal feeling comes —
The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs —
The stiff Heart questions was it He, that bore,
And Yesterday, or Centuries before?

The Feet, mechanical, go round —
Of Ground, or Air, or Ought —
A Wooden way
Regardless grown,
A Quartz contentment, like a stone —

This is the Hour of Lead —
Remembered, if outlived,
As Freezing persons, recollect the Snow —
First — Chill — then Stupor — then the letting go —

Humble Servant said...

Another old, cold friend--brrr.

I have probably a couple of hundred stock legal phrases in my head, tools that rattle off as needed in drafting--like "duly formed and validly existing," "the receipt and sufficiency of which is hereby acknowledged," "will indemnify and hold harmless"--and they are stiff and formal tools of the writing I do. I like finding them in poems--they not only add a formal flavor, their non-legal use is a subversion and their familiarity (for me) carries all kinds of suggestive baggage along for the ride.