Embarrassing confession: last week was my turn for Poetry Friday, and I COMPLETELY FORGOT. I didn’t forget that it was my turn, just forgot what day of the week it was. I was at that parade Thursday night, see, and got all bedazzled with visions of Volvos in tutus and Tibetan monks and stuff. Anyhoo, I’m sorry about that.
This week I’m trying to make up for it by sharing something extra-good: Emily Dickinson. I have a complicated relationship with ol’ Emily. I really hated her for a long time; I thought she was simpering, and that relentles rhythm: da DUM da DUM da DUM da DUM… However, somewhere late in college I was assigned to write a paper on her (the horror!), and started reluctantly reading through a big anthology… And I was shocked. I’d only really been exposed to a handful of her most famous poems before, the ones that end up on greeting cards and stuff: “I taste a liquor never brewed,” “How soft a caterpillar steps,” “Because I could not stop for death,”… you know the ones. But that later business, when she was all rebellious and pissed at God and finally busting out of that limping hymn-meter… Whoa. It blew me away. Almost literally — those later poems are like little explosions all over the page. And knowing she had that kind of power in her, that kind of fierce emotion, made me go back and look at her earlier poems in a new way. So yeah… we’re on pretty good terms now, me and Em.
Here’s one of the good ones I discovered. It’s speaking to me particularly strongly today, since I’ve finally gotten on the Twilight-obsession bandwagon. Seems like a nice little ballad for Edward and Bella.
Wild nights—wild nights!
Were I with thee
Wild nights should be
Futile the winds
To a heart in port—
Done with the compass,
Done with the chart!
Rowing in Eden—
Ah, the sea!
Might I moor, tonight,
Yeah, I think Emily’s out of copyright protection now, so I shared the whole thing. But here’s a link to the Poetry Foundation’s more legitimate page, to appease my librarian conscience.
So, how about you? Did you always love Emily, or did you have to get to know her better, too? Or do you still hate her? Is it the Yellow Rose of Texas/Gilligan’s Island/Amazing Grace thing? ‘Cause that was really really hard for me to get past, I can tell you.
Looking for the Poetry Friday round-up? Jennie at Biblio File’s got your back.