A Saturday Woman Poet: Emily Dickinson

Chosen by Anna


Banish Air from Air –
Divide light if you dare –
They’ll meet
While Cubes in a drop
Or Pellets of Shape
Films cannot annul
Odors return whole
Force Flame
And with a blonde push
Over your impotence
Flits Stream. “
An awful Tempest mashed the air –
The clouds were gaunt, and few-
A Black — as of a Spectre’s Cloak
Hid heaven and Earth from View.
The creatures chuckled on the Roofs –
And whistled in the air-
And shook their fists-
And gnashed their teeth-
And swung their frenzied hair-
The morning lit-the Birds arose-
The Monster’s  faded eyes
Turned slowly to his native coast-
And peace-was Paradise!

This Choice of Emily Dickinson’s verse is edited  by Ted Hughes.  The essay which forms Hughes’ introduction, is (if I am correct) also included in the Hughes’ essays Winter Pollen ( publ. Faber and Faber). On a slight digression, therefore, I would recommend the essays therein on Sylvia Plath’s poetic process and most especially Hughes’ discussion on the beautiful Sheep in Fog,The Evolution of Sheep in Fog :

It is undoubtedly the best commentary on the nature and significance of poetical drafts. Here, as someone who has worked on and studied manuscripts for their own sake over a period of 35 years, I can perhaps speak with more authority than on the other aspects that I indicate in this note. No one else has written so eloquently or so perceptively on the importance of drafts and why rather than being discarded they command respect as more than the ‘incidental adjunct to the poem’ — indeed ‘they are a complementary revelation, and a log-book of its real meanings.’ In the case of ‘Sheep in Fog’ the drafts ‘have revealed the nature and scope of the psychological crisis that gives the poem its weird life, sonority, its power to affect us. In other words, they are, as the final poem is not, an open window into the poet’s motivation and struggle at a moment of decisive psychological change.” Roy Davids

Publ. Winter Pollen, Ted Hughes

Wiki Image of Dickinson MSS

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