Heavy Hitters #2: Emily Dickinson v Walt Whitman

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i do feel that she manages to out-ironise every poet who ever wrote

I must disagree.

The Heart asks Pleasure – first –
And then – Excuse from Pain –
And then – those little Anodynes
That deaden suffering –

And then – to go to sleep –
And then – if it should be
The will of the Inquisitor
The privilege to die –

alimosina, Tuesday, 4 April 2017 01:05 (three years ago) link

that poem is funny though. it's "true" at one level, but it's also a deliberately absurd reduction of human experience. her poems are full of these kinds of moments:

Surgeons must be careful
When they take the knife !
Underneath their fine incisions
Stirs the culprit,--Life!

i also think there is something ironic about phrases like "on her divine majority, intrude no more!" to joyfully embrace misanthropy is a kind of ironic experience, even if the sentiment is meant sincerely. the whole fantasy of emperors jostling for her attention as she closes the "valves of her attention like stone." it's fun.

Treeship, Tuesday, 4 April 2017 01:46 (three years ago) link

What I mean is - her tone, while perfectly sincere when it's talking about a religious concept or a moral idea, is also qualified by numerous ironies. One of those being that she is aware that you, the reader are aware, that her sincerity is partly performed, and her intellectual insight through and past simple ideas and pieties is so great that she is providing several levels of silent meta-commentary on her own framing of the idea in the poem, not merely the idea itself. All this is only to add to the other obvious ironies one feels - that as a woman she shouldn't be writing or thinking this, but has a better grasp than anyone she knows. That her doubt, caution, fear and knowingness are there in the poem, unhidden, but exist with a kind of innocence which she earnestly feels and she earnestly knows has been foisted on her by virtue of her sex. Battles of knowledge, battles of form. The ironies are transcendent, because they cling to the surface of the ground, and yet are able to see all which passes all around. They express complete awareness, and the limitations of expression by one human personality.

glumdalclitch, Tuesday, 4 April 2017 02:10 (three years ago) link

the POLL selects its own society

the Rain Man of nationalism. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 4 April 2017 02:26 (three years ago) link

dickinson really is kind of a unique poet -- i can't think of anyone else who writes quite like her.

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Tuesday, 4 April 2017 23:57 (three years ago) link

I'm a common reader of poetry. When you say ironic, I think:

Henry was programmed for happiness.
What happened O, O bloody friends?
Hoho, heehee.

alimosina, Wednesday, 5 April 2017 01:07 (three years ago) link

there once was a man from nantucket

Treeship, Wednesday, 5 April 2017 01:36 (three years ago) link

What a lovely thread.

the world's little sunbeam (in orbit), Wednesday, 5 April 2017 13:36 (three years ago) link

yeah i quoted that first whitman bit upthread that aerosmith quoted in a text message and got a <3

The times they are a changing, perhaps (map), Wednesday, 5 April 2017 18:59 (three years ago) link


alimosina, Wednesday, 12 April 2017 17:01 (three years ago) link

Sight & Sounds gave it a good write-up.

xyzzzz__, Wednesday, 12 April 2017 18:10 (three years ago) link

one month passes...

“Nature is a haunted house--but Art--a house that tries to be haunted.”

Treeship, Tuesday, 16 May 2017 02:48 (three years ago) link

Going to heaven!
I don't know when,
Pray do not ask me how,--
Indeed, I'm too astonished
To think of answering you!
Going to heaven!--
How dim it sounds!
And yet it will be done
As sure as flocks go home by night
Unto the shepherd's arm!

Perhaps you're going too!
Who knows?
If you should get there first,
Save just a little place for me
Close to the two I lost!
The smallest "robe" will fit me,
And just a bit of "crown";
For you know we do not mind our dress
When we are going home.

I'm glad I don't believe it,
For it would stop my breath,
And I'd like to look a little more
At such a curious earth!
I am glad they did believe it
Whom I have never found
Since the mighty autumn afternoon
I left them in the ground.

difficult listening hour, Tuesday, 16 May 2017 03:01 (three years ago) link

magnificent and terrifying

Treeship, Tuesday, 16 May 2017 03:03 (three years ago) link

Watch the movie.

the Rain Man of nationalism. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 16 May 2017 03:04 (three years ago) link



You cannot put a Fire out --
A Thing that can ignite
Can go, itself, without a Fan --
Upon the slowest Night --

You cannot fold a Flood --
And put it in a Drawer --
Because the Winds would find it out --
And tell your Cedar Floor --

difficult listening hour, Tuesday, 16 May 2017 06:11 (three years ago) link

I many times thought Peace had come
When Peace was far away --
As Wrecked Men -- deem they sight the Land --
At Centre of the Sea --

And struggle slacker -- but to prove
As hopelessly as I --
How many the fictitious Shores --
Before the Harbor be --

difficult listening hour, Tuesday, 16 May 2017 06:14 (three years ago) link

Love those Dickinson poems. I don't think Whitman poems work so well in small doses. I guess I think Dickinson might be the better poet, but Whitman means more to me personally. I remember being on summer break during college, staying with my grandparents, not knowing many people my own age in the area, and Whitman was kind of like a companion to me. It's hokey as hell, but I used to sometimes sit out in the woods behind their house with "Leaves of Grass". Dickinson's poems are like finely-cut gems, whereas Whitman's are like big woolly sweaters. No doubt there's a lot of hocus pocus in Whitman, something I'm sure Dickinson's austere gimlet eye could have skewered deftly, but it's deeply comforting hocus pocus nonetheless.

o. nate, Friday, 19 May 2017 00:44 (three years ago) link

four months pass...

i like it when she's ambitious:

Such are the inlets of the mind—-
His outlets-— would you see
Ascend with me the eminence
Of immortality—-

(tho prayerful as ever)

I don't think Whitman poems work so well in small doses.

dickinson does suffer in large ones i think, she can drive u crazy circling her obsessions (like the gnats around the porch light in lolita: "continuously darning the air in one spot") not to mention that one rhythm she likes so much that's practically a personal haiku.

that fire/flood/winds/floor one i posted upthread still gives me chills tho: all four elements, in conspiracy. sometimes she reminds me of the log lady

difficult listening hour, Saturday, 30 September 2017 02:04 (two years ago) link

i seem to have invented a new kind of dash, above. the circle is now complete. ascend w me the eminence

difficult listening hour, Saturday, 30 September 2017 02:05 (two years ago) link

two years pass...

This is Emily.
Emily stays inside.
She reads. She writes poetry. She writes letters. She bakes. She does a bit of bird watching. Then she writes some more.
Emily is safe from COVID-19.
Be like Emily. pic.twitter.com/4Weuc9puug

— Mathieu Duplay 🌈 🇪🇺 (@mathieu_duplay) March 16, 2020

xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 17 March 2020 08:51 (two months ago) link

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