There is no frigate like a bookTo take us lands away,
Nor any coursers like a pageOf prancing poetry.This traverse may the poorest takeWithout oppress of toll;How frugal is the chariotThat bears a human soul!
She described my needs with beauty and accuracy. That is all I need. A book. And coffee. And maybe something to eat. But mostly a book.
Last weekend (weekends; the only time I can read like a maniac and write some things), I put on hold all my currently-reading books and dedicated myself to poetry. A GR friend mentioned Dickinson the other day and I remembered reading a couple of poems and a bit about her reclusive, haunted-by-death life. But I did not know her, at all. Still, I am not sure I know her now. There are so many aspects to consider. If I had to choose one word to describe her, I couldn't. I would need hundreds of them. She contains multitudes, as another poet said. She seems so simple. But there is a beautiful, bittersweet complexity in her quietness.
I found The Complete Poems and, to be honest, I was intimidated. So, instead I chose a "Selected Poems" collection. But I will definitely read that first one, entirely, someday. I only read its footnotes related to the poems I read.
There are so many poems that I loved. And so many variations too. I am not going to discuss the fact that some of her poems were rewritten in order to fit the conventional rhyme of her time (atrocious). But I will mention that some of them were written in different ways by the poet herself. For example, this one that is now so close to my heart.
Success is counted sweetestBy those who ne’er succeed.To comprehend a nectarRequires sorest need.Not one of all the purple HostWho took the Flag to-dayCan tell the definition,So clear of VictoryAs he defeated – dying –On whose forbidden earThe distant strains of triumphBurst agonized and clear!
That poem was written in 1859. There is another one written in 1862. Although the text is the same, the structure is not. Plus, a dozen of dashes and her weird capitalization. Anyway, the poem is absolutely beautiful. Painfully beautiful. There is a person that never succeeded, a loser, and Dickinson wisely tells us that he really understands the idea of success. The person that lacks something, clearly wants that something, he longs for it, and is able to get to know it so well because... he can't get it. He knows it better that the one who actually possesses it. In this case, success, victory. I can't say why I loved this poem and its concept so much, because this review would turn into some sort of diary. I certainly would not want that.
In conclusion, the loser acquired an unpleasant knowledge, one that stayed with him until his death. I remember a line of a song that I never listened to, saying that there is no worse nostalgia than to yearn for what never happened or never existed. An almost never-ending sorrow, a usually identifiable cause, and an apparently non-existing solution. Silver lining? You can't lose what you never had. (Worst “silver lining” ever).
If I can stop one heart from breaking,I shall not live in vain;If I can ease one life the aching,Or cool one pain,Or help one fainting robinUnto his nest again,I shall not live in vain.
A 1890 poem that seems to reflect Dickinson's kind nature. Inspiring verses that are trying to help us find some meaning in our lives. Something that can be found when we help others. I am not sure how helpful you can be while living inside your room and not even talking to people to their faces, but at least she wrote about it...? Her poetry might have been the best and maybe the only way she had to help others.
It is quite a positive poem, considering Death is one of her most recurring themes. Just to name a few: "If I should die", "If I shouldn't be alive", "Death is like the insect", "Because I could not stop for Death" (one of her most well-known poems and the first one I've ever read).
But I am not focusing on that theme. Enough has been said. I found other poems that are now stuck in my head.
I'm Nobody! Who are you?Are you –Nobody – too?Then there's a pair of us!Dont tell! they'd advertise - you know!How dreary – to be – Somebody!How public – like a Frog –To tell one's name – the livelong June –To an admiring Bog!***Much Madness is divinest Sense –To a discerning Eye –Much Sense - the starkest Madness –'Tis the MajorityIn this, as All, prevail –Assent – and you are sane –Demur – you're straightaway dangerous –And handled with a Chain –***I had no time to hate, becauseThe grave would hinder me,And life was not so ample ICould finish enmity. That beckoned it away!Nor had I time to love; but sinceSome industry must be,The little toil of love, I thought,Was large enough for me.
Dickinson captivated me. She gave me a new perspective on poetry. If I could describe all these feelings her work have created in me, I would feel such a huge relief. But I can't. I do not have it. So I must borrow some of her words: "If I read a book [and] it makes my whole body so cold no fire ever can warm me, I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry."