sábado, 15 de agosto de 2015

Selected Poems - Emily Dickinson


There is no frigate like a book 
To take us lands away, 
Nor any coursers like a page 
Of prancing poetry. 

This traverse may the poorest take 
Without oppress of toll; 
How frugal is the chariot 
That bears a human soul!

She described my needs with beauty and accuracy. That is all I need. A book. And coffee. And maybe something to eat. But mostly a book.

Last weekend (weekends; the only time I can read like a maniac and write some things), I put on hold all my currently-reading books and dedicated myself to poetry. A GR friend mentioned Dickinson the other day and I remembered reading a couple of poems and a bit about her reclusive, haunted-by-death life. But I didn't know her, at all. Still, I am not sure I know her now. There are so many aspects to consider. If I had to choose one word to describe her, I couldn't; I would need hundreds of them. She contains multitudes, as another poet said. She seems so simple. But there is a beautiful, bittersweet complexity in her quietness.

I found The Complete Poems and, to be honest, I was quite intimidated. So instead, I chose a "Selected Poems" collection. But I will definitely read that first one, entirely, someday. I only read its footnotes related to the poems I read.

There are so many poems that I loved. And so many variations too. I am not going to discuss the fact that some of her poems were rewritten in order to fit the conventional rhyme of her time (atrocious). But I will mention that some of them were written in different ways by the poet herself. For example, this one that is now so close to my heart.
Success is counted sweetest
By those who ne’er succeed.
To comprehend a nectar
Requires sorest need.

Not one of all the purple Host
Who took the Flag to-day
Can tell the definition,
So clear of Victory

As he defeated – dying –
On whose forbidden ear
The distant strains of triumph
Burst agonized and clear!

That poem was written in 1859. There is another one written in 1862. Although the text is the same, the structure is not. Plus, a dozen of dashes and her weird capitalization. Anyway, the poem is absolutely beautiful. Poignantly beautiful. There is a person who never succeeded, a loser, and Dickinson wisely tells us that he really understands the idea of success. The person who lacks something, clearly wants that something, he longs for it, and is able to get to know it so well because... he cannot touch it. He knows it better that the one who actually possesses it. In this case, success, victory. A poem I truly identify with.
In conclusion, the loser acquired an unpleasant knowledge, one that stayed with him until his death. I remember a line of a song that I never listened to, saying that there is no worse nostalgia than to yearn for what never happened or never existed. An almost never-ending sorrow, a usually identifiable cause and an apparently nonexistent solution. Silver lining? You can't lose what you never had. (Worst “silver lining” ever).

Another one:
If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

A 1890 poem that seems to reflect Dickinson's kind nature. Inspiring verses that are trying to help us find some meaning in our lives. Something that can be found when we help others. I am not sure how helpful you can be while living inside your room and not even talking to people to their faces, but at least she wrote about it...? Her poetry might have been the best and maybe the only way she had to help others.
It is quite a positive poem, considering Death is one of her most recurring themes. Just to name a few: "If I should die", "If I shouldn't be alive", "Death is like the insect", "Because I could not stop for Death" (one of her most well-known poems and the first one I've ever read).
But I am not focusing on that theme. Enough has been said. I found other poems that are now stuck in my head.
I'm Nobody! Who are you?
Are you –Nobody – too?
Then there's a pair of us!
Dont tell! they'd advertise - you know!

How dreary – to be – Somebody!
How public – like a Frog –
To tell one's name – the livelong June –
To an admiring Bog!


Much Madness is divinest Sense –
To a discerning Eye –
Much Sense - the starkest Madness –
'Tis the Majority
In this, as All, prevail –
Assent – and you are sane –
Demur – you're straightaway dangerous –
And handled with a Chain –


I had no time to hate, because
The grave would hinder me,
And life was not so ample I
Could finish enmity. That beckoned it away!
Nor had I time to love; but since
Some industry must be,
The little toil of love, I thought,
Was large enough for me.

Dickinson captivated me. She gave me a new perspective on poetry. If I could describe all these feelings her work has created in me, I would feel such a huge relief; I can't, though. So I must borrow some of her words: "If I read a book [and] it makes my whole body so cold no fire ever can warm me, I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry."

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