Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Oh, Emily, how I do love thee

I've heard it said that it is almost impossible and improbable to have to pick out a favourite when it comes to art. I agree. In poetry, though, when all else fails, one of my favourite poets has to be Emily Dickinson. That lonely, wren-like, but wonderful poet heeded the call and wrote beautiful verses. Since I'm particuarly inclined towards paying undue attention to death, perhaps because I'm one of those mostly solitary introverts, her "death poems" intrigue me.
Two favourites:

Here's one:

Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality.

We slowly drove, he knew no haste,
And I had put away
My labor, and my leisure too,
For his civility.

We passed the school, where children strove
At recess, in the ring;
We passed the fields of gazing grain,
We passed the setting sun.

Or rather, he passed us;
The dews grew quivering and chill,
For only gossamer my gown,
My tippet only tulle.

We paused before a house that seemed
A swelling of the ground;
The roof was scarcely visible,
The cornice but a mound.

Since then 'tis centuries, and yet each
Feels shorter than the day
I first surmised the horses' heads
Were toward eternity.


I heard a fly buzz when I died;
The stillness round my form
Was like the stillness in the air
Between the heaves of storm.

The eyes beside had wrung them dry,
And breaths were gathering sure
For that last onset, when the king
Be witnessed in his power.

I willed my keepsakes, signed away
What portion of me I
Could make assignable,-and then
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.

I shall refrain from commenting on them; choosing, instead, for their words, metre, etc. to convey subjective meaning to reader in different/several readings.

The death poems aren't the only ones I find fascinating, as Dickinson's other poems are just as rich.