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Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Emily Six

Been a couple of months since I did an Emily Dickinson and Wikipedia post, but I have little to do today so I've been lazing through my copy of the Complete poems (they can be found online here).


I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my Feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.
In that first line she probably was not referring to the plank roads I've linked to; more likely the metaphor was to be a house's unfinished flooring, or a dilapidated dock or foot bridge. In the last line I'm almost certain she was leaning in this direction and that she would have been pleased with the Rumanian proverb quoted at the bottom of that page:
Only the foolish learn from experience — the wise learn from the experience of others.


I felt a Cleaving in my Mind
As if my Brain had split —
I tried to match it — Seam by Seam
But could not make it fit.

The thought behind, I strove to join
Unto the thought before —
But Sequence ravelled out of Sound
Like Balls — upon a Floor.
I recommend reading and/or listening to the entire 2003 Reith Lecture series I linked to in the last line of the first stanza. Sweet stuff.

Previous Emily posts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.


Humble Servant said...

Wow--I like 'em both. Good to see Emily and you again.

Someone posted this one on the sdmb this am--it's got Balls too!

A Dying Tiger -- moaned for Drink --
I hunted all the Sand --
I caught the Dripping of a Rock
And bore it in my Hand --

His Mighty Balls -- in death were thick --
But searching -- I could see
A Vision on the Retina
Of Water -- and of me --

'Twas not my blame -- who sped too slow --
'Twas not his blame -- who died
While I was reaching him --
But 'twas -- the fact that He was dead --

MackJohnny said...

I think it's quite obvious that Emily had balls.

MackJohnny said...

That second stanza, the image in its last couple of lines, followed me around all last night.

Humble Servant said...

Heh--I'm being followed by "sequence ravelled out of sound."

Also, animal images--maybe we could discuss what it is about "wings" that resonates? Both you and Zach had wings in the poems you posted in the "process" entry.

MackJohnny said...

Not sure what it is about wings. I like 'em though. It's more than flight, I think. Or perhaps the mechanics of how they provide flight.... They've keep popping up in poems pretty regular.

Humble Servant said...

Absolutely--who doesn't want to fly (and who doesn't fall like Icarus)? And why can't we have angels with ah! bright wings? And why do birds, if I think about them too hard, really creep me out with their beady little eyes and their scaly litle claws and their pecky little beaks?

MackJohnny said...

Because they're the last sneaky little dinosaurs, and they always look hungry.

"Angels with ah! bright wings." That sounds like Rilke but I'm sure it ain't.

ZW said...

Hopkins. Shame on you, MacKenzie! Hey, this'd make a swell audiopost...

Dunno what it is about wings, either, except maybe that they're so completely unhuman. Now that I think of it, they seem to happen in a fair number of my poems, too. With the cormorant, in particular, the image of it with its wings spread out to dry (unlike most seabirds, the cormorant, which is a particularly archaic species, largely unchanged over the last 50 millenia has no oil in its plumage, so it has to air-dry or it gets too heavy to fly) is downright iconic.