Professor J's Place

10 December, 2014

happy birthday, Miss Dickinson. and thank you.

When I was an undergraduate, I read an essay by Adrienne Rich about Emily Dickinson. "Vesuvius at Home," the title taken from an ED poem, shattered the image of the shy, strange little woman sitting in her bedroom and hiding away from the world.

And I began to read Dickinson. Then I began to study Dickinson. Her syntax, her precise and startling use of words, her understanding of the human mind, of my mind, were sustenance to me.

And still, I think that there is no one who touches my heart as much as Dickinson.

On this day, the day after the congress released its report on torture, a day when racism and violence and lawlessness seem ever present, a day when I think that perhaps my country has lost its soul, I remember that Dickinson wrote the bulk of her poetry during the years of the civil war; another time when America was paying the price for its original sin.  It seems appropriate to share the best poem about grief I've ever read:

After great pain, a formal feeling comes –
The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs –
The stiff Heart questions ‘was it He, that bore,’
And ‘Yesterday, or Centuries before’?

The Feet, mechanical, go round –
A Wooden way
Of Ground, or Air, or Ought –
Regardless grown,
A Quartz contentment, like a stone –

This is the Hour of Lead –
Remembered, if outlived,
As Freezing persons, recollect the Snow –
First – Chill – then Stupor – then the letting go –

J 372

Poem copied from


Blogger Gary's third pottery blog said...

It is very well put, love Emily Dickinson indeed and plan to visit her house soon. And YES, I find the USA rather nutty these days too...

December 10, 2014 at 6:52 AM  
Blogger Karen Jensen said...

Gary, I went to her house a few years back. It's wonderful--I was especially moved by the tiny desk she sat at.

December 10, 2014 at 6:59 AM  
Blogger Cassi Renee said...

Such a wonderful poet. I'd never read that one --thanks for sharing it.

December 10, 2014 at 9:32 AM  
Blogger Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

That does resonate. Thank you!

December 13, 2014 at 7:20 PM  
Blogger slow panic said...

Thank you for posting this. It's lovely.

December 20, 2014 at 8:17 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home