Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Archive for the tag “Emily Dickinson”

NPM #10: Emily and the sun


Emily Dickinson

National Poetry Month wouldn’t be the same without a guest appearance from Emily. Image: Academy of American Poets

A Day

Emily Dickinson, 18301886

I’ll tell you how the sun rose, —
A ribbon at a time.
The steeples swam in amethyst,
The news like squirrels ran.

The hills untied their bonnets,
The bobolinks begun.
Then I said softly to myself,
“That must have been the sun!”

But how he set, I know not.
There seemed a purple stile
Which little yellow boys and girls
Were climbing all the while

Till when they reached the other side,
A dominie in gray
Put gently up the evening bars,
And led the flock away.

It will no doubt take a lifetime to read and appreciate Emily D’s some 1000+ poems. I do so delight in finding one I haven’t seen before. How does she devise these slips of images that dazzle to the point of pause? What’s interesting to me is that she didn’t capitalize “sun” although she personified it, which did have a penchant for doing.

Have you a favorite Emily? Please share. Maybe I am not aware of it yet and I would like to make its acquaintance.

Dash It All


I have come upon the realization I lean towards dashes instead of semi-colons–really, I do. My students upon the first introduction to Emily Dickinson notice her use of those extra big hyphens. Hey–if it’s good enough for Em–dash it all, it can’t be all wrong.

On reflection, perhaps I overindulge in my penchant for dashes–or maybe not? In my desire to correctly use them, I turned to the Internet and found my favorite grammar guru–Ben Yagoda. A writer for The New York Times, professor, teacher, and I would say humorist, he provided everything I needed to know about the dash–and then some. Check out his fabulous writing guide How Not to Write Bad (really–that’s the title).

cartoon by Peter Arkle

An excerpt from his column points out how effective the dash can be:

To get a sense of some of the things a dash can do, take a look at these pairs of quotes.

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby”:

Thirty: the promise of a decade of loneliness, a thinning list of single men to know, a thinning briefcase of enthusiasm, thinning hair.

Thirty—the promise of a decade of loneliness, a thinning list of single men to know, a thinning briefcase of enthusiasm, thinning hair.

Henry James, referring to Henry David Thoreau:

He was worse than a provincial, he was parochial.

He was worse than a provincial—he was parochial.

Mark Twain in “Autobiography”:

…life does not consist mainly (or even largely) of facts and happenings. It consists mainly of the storm of thoughts that is forever blowing through one’s head.

…life does not consist mainly—or even largely—of facts and happenings. It consists mainly of the storm of thoughts that is forever blowing through one’s head.

Twain’s “Pudd’nhead Wilson’s New Calendar”:

Each person is born to one possession which outvalues all his others: his last breath.

Each person is born to one possession which outvalues all his others—his last breath.

In all cases, both versions make sense and are grammatically correct. But the ones with the dash (the ones the authors actually wrote) seem to live and breathe, while the others just lie there on the page. Like hitting the right combination of buttons in a computer game, typing two hyphens on the keyboard — and thereby making a dash — can give your prose a burst of energy, as if by magic. 

Emily, Twain, F. Scott, and Henry J.–I’m in good company.

Fare thee Well, and so it ’tis…


English: Daguerreotype of the poet Emily Dicki...

English: Daguerreotype of the poet Emily Dickinson, taken circa 1848. (Original is scratched.) From the Todd-Bingham Picture Collection and Family Papers, Yale University Manuscripts & Archives Digital Images Database, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

we part with such sweet sorrow,
the course is spent,
Come again Aprile as would t’morrow.

 

True–it’s over. Every day the Cricket has Mused her way through National Poetry Month.  Thanks for joining and I look forward to next year.  Thanks for the stop bys, comments, and new followers.

 

My favorite poems?  Certainly.  Glad you asked. Here a a couple I never tire of:

 

“Hope” is the thing with feathers

 

254

“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.

Emily Dickinson

English: Billy Collins at D.G. Wills Books, La...

English: Billy Collins at D.G. Wills Books, La Jolla, San Diego Deutsch: Billy Collins bei D.G. Wills Books, La Jolla, San Diego (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Introduction To Poetry

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

Billy Collins

 

Emily rocks. Hands down, she is ThE Poet who has changed the landscape of verse, that is except for The Bard.  Now, as for Billy.  He’s cool.  He is such a poet pro he’s even been named Poet Laureate (high honors, that). His “Teaching Poetry” always reminds me to NOT beat the snot out of a poem when teaching poetry.

What are your absolute all time favorite poems?

 

 

 

#9: Poems to Know and Grow On


It’s been too long since I paid attention to my Musings of a Voracious Reader list.  Tidying up my files I discovered entry #9: Poems to Know and Grow On and it seems quite appropriate as a post-Valentine’s Day post, since poetry is the food of love (right next to chocolate).

As I teach poetry, especially as I prepare my AP students for their exams in May, I am reading more and more poets and poetry.  This is a good thing.  In fact, I am now taking on what I have deemed as the “Emily Project” which is discovering Emily Dickinson.  Understanding her would be another project in itself.

As I teach, read, and study poems I have gathered a few along the way.  I dearly wish I had a better knack for memorization because I would like to pull out a poem for any occasion and dazzle, delight, and demonstrate the power of poetry to any willing listener. I love it when that moment arrives in a movie when one character starts a poem and another finishes it.  Remember Willoughby and Marianne from Sense and Sensibility? *sigh*

This is simply a sprinkling of poems I have deemed worth knowing and to grow on:

1. My First Memory (of Librarians) by Nikki Giovanni–a Book Booster’s banner poem of delight

2. Harlem (A Dream Deferred) by Langston Hughes–his imagery is enviable

3.Introduction to Poetry by Billy Collins–enjoy poetry, don’t tie it to a chair and beat a confession out of it (love this)

4. Hope Is A Thing With Feathers by Emily Dickinson–hope wings its way into our hearts

5. The Road Not Takenby Robert Frost–almost clichéd by its overuse, it’s still a powerful statement about making choices

6. The Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll–delightfully fun for any age

7. This Is Just To Say by William Carlos Williams–after I discovered this was actually a note to his wife I embraced the poem even more

8. The Tyger by William Blake–imagine seeing a tiger for the first time; how can something so exquisitely beautiful be also so incredibly deadly?

9. One Art by Elizabeth Bishop–the more I read Bishop the more I realize what talent she has for capturing life’s moments

10.I Hear America Singing by Walt Whitman–“a sweaty-toothed madmen” claimed Todd from Dead Poets Society, when asked what he thought of Uncle Walt; Whitman is clearly underrated (check out the Poem Flow when you hit the link or better yet check out this YouTube)

11. Sonnet 130 by William Shakespeare–the Bard employs his wit whilst he poketh funneth at the syrupy nature of sonnets

12. We Real Cool by Gwendolyn Brooks–no matter the era, youth’s self-destruction prevails

13. Fog by Carl Sandburg–its simplicity speaks volumes

14. The Daffodils by William Wordsworth–my heart gladdens of spring’s promise as the daffodils lift their golden heads above winter’s chilly grasp

And there are  fourteen poems, a drop of verses in the deep well of that which stirs the soul, as a nod to Valentine’s Day and the tradition of sweet rhymes, chocolate, and roses.

One last poem to know and grow on, not necessarily my favorite, but definitely memorable.  True love is memorable, as Poe so deftly renders in this tribute to his lost love. This one usually makes my ninth grade students pause, which is one reason I refer to it.

Annabel Lee

by Edgar Allan Poe
It was many and many a year ago,
   In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
   By the name of Annabel Lee;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
   Than to love and be loved by me.

I was a child and she was a child,
   In this kingdom by the sea:
But we loved with a love that was more than love--
   I and my Annabel Lee;
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
   Coveted her and me.

And this was the reason that, long ago,
   In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
   My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her highborn kinsman came
   And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulchre
   In this kingdom by the sea.

The angels, not half so happy in heaven,
   Went envying her and me--
Yes!--that was the reason (as all men know,
   In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
   Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.

But our love it was stronger by far than the love
   Of those who were older than we--
   Of many far wiser than we--
And neither the angels in heaven above,
   Nor the demons down under the sea,
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
   Of the beautiful Annabel Lee:

For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams
   Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes
   Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling--my darling--my life and my bride,
   In her sepulchre there by the sea,
   In her tomb by the sounding sea.

Virginia Poe watercolor painted after her deat...

Virginia Poe watercolor painted after her death in 1847. From eapoe.org Category:Edgar Allan Poe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bright Spots and Pass Alongs


When the world reveals too much darkness I tend to retreat.  I know I can’t just hide and pretend it will all go away, yet I don’t want to dwell on tragedies and troubling events.  So when the world is at its darkest I look up and out and around to find the bright spots.

Beautiful dramatic sky with sun rays  Blue Heavens Idyllic Wallpaper Broad Daylight  Stock Photo - 16019369

Whitetail doe eating with her twin fawns nearby a forest Stock Photo - 7770366
leaded glass dragonfly sticking to window with back light Stock Photo - 13175274
Sunset in autumn forest Stock Photo - 13041518
 The photo of beautiful beach and waves Stock Photo - 12003686
Cute little boy feeding ducks Stock Photo - 10488802
butterflies
readalonequote
And I escape by reading.
My love and prayers go out to those affected by the turmoil and troubles of the day.  I do encourage everyone to keep looking for the bright spots as I am reminded of Emily Dickinson who spoke of hope:

“Hope” is the thing with feathers

254
“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

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