Monday, June 30, 2008

Emily Dickinson Ambivalence

I'm borrowing (long-term) The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson (Thomas H Johnson, ed).  At the risk of sounding like a philistine, I'm not sure what the fuss is about and Ms. Dickinson's use of dashes is confusing to me.  I haven't yet had a chance to compare them to "The Ink Dark Moon; Love Poems by Ono No Komachi & Izumi Shikibu" (Hirshfield and Aratani),  or to "Japanese Death Poems" (compiled by Yoel Hoffmann), which are more accessible to me (possibly because there are little footnotes explaining that a full moon in a mansion is a metaphor for Buddhism or that such-and-such a poem was composed after the cremation of the poet's daughter). 

So far Ms. Dickinson's poems have struck me as either opaque or else clever in a fifth-grader kind of way.  Maybe I've read the wrong poems (there's 1775), and possibly I don't have a good connection to nineteenth century American sensibilities.
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