Monday, August 20, 2012

Poetry: Emily Dickinson

I do a lot of musical appreciation posts on this blog but so far no poetry appreciation. Probably because my musical knowledge is far more extensive than my poetry knowledge. Today's poet of choice is the classic, the one, the only: Emily Dickinson.

I started reading her poetry, like many others, because it was assigned in school. For me it was tenth grade and to be honest I was all the enthused with the idea of it (mind you, I wasn't enthused by a whole lot in tenth grade). But, looking back on that year it was probably one of my favourite reading assignments from that class, next to The Great Gatsby.

What I like about Dickinson's poetry is that she rights about big things in an eloquent and somewhat simple way. By "big things" I mean, death, and hope, and love lost. She writes about big ideas in a relatively small way and paints pictures with few words. Before we read Emily Dickinson I had never really grasped poetry or connected to it very much (perhaps due to my stubborn adolecent brain) but her poetry at least let me figure out what I like and what I would like to read and where to go from there.

One of the poems that stuck out to me most in my tenth grade english class was "Hope is the thing with feathers". I love a good extended metaphor and so this poem is right up my alley. Taking "hope", this huge unidentifiable idea, and comparing it to a simple bird. The way she makes the ambiguous idea of hope so familiar is kind of comforting to me.


Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune--without the words,
And never stops at all,


And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.


I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.


Song recommendation: Have You Ever by Brandi Carlile

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