Discovering Dickinson

Recently, I have been reading a lot of Dickinson poetry for a class I’m in. It was like stumbling upon something I never knew I needed– this sharp intake of intense and almost painful breath, but which somehow expanded my chest and helped me feel with more clarity. I am so incredibly taken by Emily Dickinson’s poetry. I like poetry– I knew that coming into this class– though I didn’t do it for simple pleasure. I liked it the way one likes a nice sunset with no one to share it, a starry sky without a map of the constellations, a lovely glass of wine amidst chatter– the slight recognition of something one cannot know, the offering of a few intrepid interpretations, and a pleasurable indifference to the God-given beauties of the world. Isn’t that such a horrible way to go about living? To feel only the things that affects one’s life and ignore everything else… or to brush aside those deep, dark, unexplored but richly felt emotions… to pursue just that flighty, ugly happiness that comes and goes… to be half-human…

Emily Dickinson is not half-human. She is so human that it hurts. She is so human that it makes those sunset-star- watching, wine-drinking detached fools say things like “I am glad to not live near her”, or that her poems did not rhyme or flow well enough, or that she wrote small garden poems… she felt things so deeply and purely and her poetry is nothing but emotion manifested in language, arguments given form, death breathed to life.

Needless to say, she has inspired me so. It is fascinated to find myself in her poetry. She agonizes over her lack of faith, over death, over fame, over God– and these things torment her, I think. I think they kind of torment me, too. And it is beautiful– I would argue maybe sacred– to realize this in words. It has been the greatest pleasure to read her work.

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