Posts tagged emily dickinson

Dear Emily…

I was going to write on a Christmas-y subject today, but I ran across something that reminded me of an Emily Dickinson poem, and now all I can think of is Dickinson, Dickinson, Dickinson, so that other post will have to wait.

The “something” I ran across was this fabulous quote by Willa Cather, arguably another extremely important woman in the wide scope of American literature, but someone I know considerably less about, and have never personally read:

The fact that I was a girl never damaged my ambitions to be a pope or an emperor.

My mind jumped immediately to what is possibly my favorite Emily Dickinson poem:

No matter — now — Sweet —
But when I’m Earl —
Won’t you wish you’d spoken
To that dull Girl?

Trivial a Word — just —
Trivial — a Smile —
But won’t you wish you’d spared one
When I’m Earl?

I shan’t need it — then —
Crests — will do —
Eagles on my Buckles —
On my Belt — too —

Ermine — my familiar Gown —
Say — Sweet — then
Won’t you wish you’d smiled — just —
Me upon?

— Emily Dickinson – # 704

So, in case you didn’t know this… in case you had the mistaken idea that Emily Dickinson was this depressed, lonely girl who did nothing but dress in white and lock herself up and hide away from the world… read that poem again.  Emily Dickinson was a rock star.  Her imagination had NO limitations, and she was pretty much one of the smartest people who ever lived. (It’s true… if you don’t understand one of her poems, go back and look EVERY word up in the dictionary, then you’ll want to cry because you’ll see how smart she is.)  She was also, obviously, not afraid of female empowerment, and writing freely about it.  Not that all of her poems are about her… that’s something you definitely don’t want to assume, especially when she writes about remembering being a young boy, etc. 😉

Okay, I know I fangirl weird things.  I do.  Emily Dickinson is NOT a normal thing for someone to fangirl.  A professor of mine my very first semester of college nipped me with the Dickinson Love bug, though, and there’s no coming back from that.

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Fun Book Meme!

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1) What author do you own the most books by?

Easily (if not slightly embarrassingly) Melinda Metz, someone I’m sure very few of you have even heard of. I have all ten Roswell High books (that would be the series the WB show was based off of), plus doubles of at least four of them, and all seven of the Fingerprints novels, her second and vastly better YA book series.  If it were coming out now it’d probably be a hit, but it was sadly before it’s time.

2) What book do you own the most copies of?

I really only have doubles of anything… Little Women, Little Men, and Jane Eyre, definitely. At one point I had something like four copies of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, but I’m pretty sure I gave at least two of those away.

3) What fictional character are you secretly in love with?

Secretly? That strikes out quite a few, doesn’t it? Um… Anthony Fascinelli, from the aforementioned Fingerprints series. Expressively so. And then Dicken, from The Secret Garden, and probably Finn from The Books of Bayern, by Shannon Hale.  Not so secretly – Mr. Rochester, Darcy, Gilbert Blythe, Captain Wentworth, Rhett Butler, and Ron Weasley.  What?

4) What book have you read more than any other?

Jane Eyre. That book is like breathing clean air for me. I reread books a lot, but Jane Eyre takes the cake there.  As you can see on my sidebar, I’m rereading it now. 🙂

5) What was your favorite book when you were 10-years-old?

The Secret Garden and The Little Princess. Frances Hodgson Burnett pretty much owned me at that age!

6) What is the worst book you’ve read in the past year?

Probably I’d have to say The Hourglass Door by Lisa Mangum. But most of the books I’ve been reading this past year have been rereads of favorites or ones I’d been waiting some time for, so it didn’t have much of a chance.

7) What is the best book you’ve read in the past year?

Like I said, almost half of the books I’ve read this past year have been rereads. But of new books? Fablehaven: Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary by Brandon Mull. I really cannot speak highly enough of this series. It’s the best high fantasy series of the “talking dragons and fairies” that I’ve ever read. Really. Not that I read a lot of them, because I have trouble taking them seriously. This has never been a problem with Fablehaven.

8 ) If you could tell everyone you know to read one book, what would it be?

I’m going to be predictable here and say I Never Promised You a Rose Garden by Joanne Greenberg. It is just so much about triumph, and basically a true story. Fictionalized autobiography. One of the few books that I’ve ever read that literally makes me feel like a better person for having read it.

9) What is the most difficult book you’ve ever read?

Most difficult… possible Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.  I simply don’t care for books that are more about ideas than people.  There have been a few others of similar cases in my college career, but the others are all fairly obscure, so I don’t actually remember their titles.

10) Do you prefer the French or the Russians?

The Russians. I love reading Russian literature. Dostoevsky, Lermontov, Pushkin? Yes, please. I should read more French, though.  I’m not half as familiar with them.

11) Shakespeare, Milton or Chaucer?

That is not an effective question. It’s like asking whether you prefer water or oxygen—not in the life-or-death view of it, but in the fact that they’re three things that are essentially huge in the English language, and you can’t just pick between them, because they’re really not that similar. Milton is like… reading genius. You just know that he was one of the smartest men to have ever lived. Chaucer is similar, but I get bored with the bawdiness of it. I do not get bored of reading Middle English, though. The best thing to do with any of these authors is to just read them aloud, until you understand them. But on a day-to-day basis? Shakespeare, of course. There’s so much variety in his works, and just so many amazing characters.

12) Austen or Eliot?

Oh Austen, easily. But then I did read every single word of Middlemarch (which is almost the length of all six Austen novels combined) and was surprised at how much I loved it. Consequently, I’m surprised this question isn’t Austen or Brontë! That’s what you see most often, and it’s pretty unfair, considering how different the works are. Eliot is much closer to Austen’s feel, definitely.

13) What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading?

Oh almost anything contemporary that isn’t YA. I’m pretty awful in that I’m either stuck in the past or stuck in high school. Nonfiction, too. I almost never read nonfiction, though I think maybe I’m almost to the point where I’ll start seeking it out.

14) What is your favorite novel?

Jane Eyre, or Persuasion. Or possibly Little Women. But I haven’t read that last in ages, (it’s next in line to read after Jane Eyre!) so I’m interested in seeing how my view of it might have changed?

15) Play?

Oh… I’m going to cheat here and say The Oresteia. Which is actually three plays. But almost any Greek tragedy. I love Antigone, and Prometheus Bound, and just all of it. The Oresteia is just overwhelming, though.  Clytemnestra is just terrifying and awesome and somehow still sympathetic, and Orestes is just trying so hard to be good! I have a flair for the dramatic, what?

16) Poem?

Oh impossible to pick just one. Emily Dickinson—oh just pick one, they’re all brilliant, and I really don’t want to point you to an overly-familiar one just because it’s the one I can remember off the top of my head. That woman was just so smart. And if you think she’s depressing you’ve probably only read the four poems they assign in high school lit, and you should really read more. She is just impeccably smart. I love Sharon Olds, too, though, and one that comes to mind is from Billy Collins—”Marginalia” is sweet, and just a perfect poem.

I didn’t really mean for both of those links to refer back to Emily Dickinson, but it’s just as well that they do. Don’t get distracted by the seemingly random capitalization and punctuation… focus on the words. She knew her words better than anyone else I have ever seen. There are so many gorgeous poets, though. Whitman, Elizabeth Barret Browning. Longfellow, my old favorite. Poetry is kind of a secret passion with me, one I forget about and then it flares up in sudden, unstoppable waves.

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