More Emily Dickinson – Much More!

My last post, Who is that Narrow Fellow, garnered more interest than I had imagined it would, so I thought I’d follow it with more about Emily Dickinson and her poetry, which I love.

Too say Emily Dickinson was prolific would be an understatement. Although few of her poems were published in her lifetime, she wrote 1,789 – that we know of. A herculean effort if there ever was one.

 

The Prowling Bee

Another herculean effort is underway by Susan Kornfeld in her blog the prowling Bee. Susan has taken on the task of writing and posting commentary for each of Dickinson’s 1,789 poems. Her latest post is number 637, a third of the way to her goal. The name “the prowling Bee,” comes from this poem:

 

to pack the Bud –oppose the Worm
Obtain its right of Dew —
Adjust the Heat — elude the Wind —
Escape the prowling Bee

Great Nature not to disappoint
Awaiting Her that Day —
To be a Flower, is profound
Responsibility —

Susan has not posted a blog about that poem – yet – but she has a post for this one, a favorite of mine:

 

I'm Nobody!

What do you think of this poem? I find the humor delightful. Susan is not as impressed as I. Check out her post here and find out why?

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That’s it for this poetic interlude. In my next post, we’ll return to the history of the Firelands.

 

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Who is that Narrow Fellow?

My last post about Emily Dickinson was so well received (thanks for all the kind comments) that I decided to run another one of her nature poems past you. I love this poem, and recite it to every “narrow fellow” I encounter when hiking.

 

Grass

 

A narrow Fellow in the Grass

Occasionally rides –

You may have met him? Did you not

His notice instant is –

The Grass divides as with a Comb –

A spotted Shaft is seen,

And then it closes at your Feet

And opens further on –

He likes a Boggy Acre –

A Floor too cool for Corn –

But when a Boy and Barefoot

I more than once at Noon

Have passed I thought a Whip Lash

Unbraiding in the Sun

When stooping to secure it

It wrinkled And was gone –

Several of Nature’s People

I know and they know me

I feel for them a transport

Of Cordiality

But never met this Fellow

Attended or alone

Without a tighter Breathing

And Zero at the Bone.

 

Just who is that narrow fellow, anyway? Have you guessed his identity?

 

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Born in Amherst

Like Emily Dickinson, I was born in Amherst – just not the one in Massachusetts. My birthplace is Amherst, Ohio, just over the county line from the Firelands, the subject of this blog. Born in 1830, when much of the Firelands remained a wilderness, she was a contemporary of many characters in my stories. And many of her poems fit well with the other name of that place: “Sufferers’ Land.”

Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson Wikimedia Commons

Beside the names of our birthplaces, the only other similarity between me and Ms. Dickinson is that we both write. It is a slim comparison, however. I do not write anywhere near as well – and I stick to prose. And although I love poetry, I can’t write it to save my life.

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This quiet Dust was Gentlemen and Ladies

And Lads and Girls –

Was laughter and ability and Sighing

And Frocks and Curls.

A chance encounter several years ago with that evocative stanza ensnared me.  It expressed so eloquently that poignancy I feel when I write about the lives of my ancestors, and others.  Within a short time I had read two anthologies of her poems, all her letters, and numerous commentaries and biographies. Many commentators seemed to find her poetry depressing, and some of it is. But much of it is not, especially her observations of nature:

 

A Bird, came down the Walk –

He did not know I saw –

He bit an Angle Worm in halves

And ate the fellow, raw,

 

And then, he drank a Dew

From a convenient Grass –

And then hopped sidewise to the Wall

To let a Beetle pass –

 

He glanced with rapid eyes,

That hurried all abroad –

They looked like frightened Beads, I thought,

He stirred his Velvet Head. –

 

Like one in danger, Cautious,

I offered him a Crumb,

And he unrolled his feathers,

And rowed him softer Home –

 

Than Oars divide the Ocean,

Too silver for a seam,

Or Butterflies, off Banks of Noon,

Leap, plashless as they swim.

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I have committed to memory this poem, and others, and often recite them while I hike.

If you have not experienced the genius of Emily Dickinson, I encourage you to do so. You may be surprised by what you find.

 

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