Monday, September 15, 2008

Emily Dickinson on hurricanes

I recently decided to keep a book of poetry in my purse for those moments when you find yourself waiting with nothing to do. Since I’ve been trying to lighten the load in my bag (due to shoulder issues), I was pleased to find a tiny volume of a handful of Emily Dickinson’s poems (one of my favorite of the classic poets) at Half Price Books. It’s been fun to read and think through a poem here and there. Waiting with a poem is a pleasurable way to pass a few minutes—sort of a mental yoga—and I highly recommend it. And it’s been interesting to revisit some old favorites and even discover some Dickinson gems that I had missed along the way.

For example, I had no idea that she had written about a storm—what some people claim might have been a hurricane.

There came a wind like a bugle;

It quivered through the grass,
And a green chill upon the heat

So ominous did pass

We barred the windows and the doors

As from an emerald ghost;

The doom’s electric moccasin

That very instant passed.

On a strange mob of panting trees,
And fences fled away,

And rivers where the houses ran

Those looked that lived—that Day—

The bell within the steeple wild
The flying tidings whirled.

How much can come

And much can go,

And yet abide the world!

From Moore, Geoffrey. Ed. 1986. Great American Poets: Emily Dickinson. New York: Clarkson N. Potter Publishers, p. 54.

We here in Texas are coping with the “emerald ghost” of Hurricane Ike this weekend, so this poem goes out to my friends and colleagues and all those in the Houston-Galveston area. Hang in there!

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Anonymous said...

Oh, gorgeous:

On a strange mob of panting trees,

Wow. I too would love to keep poetry in my purse and wish there were tiny versions of kids' poetry books I could do that with. I do sometimes keep a paperback adult volume in there.

Thanks for sharing!

Donna Marie Merritt said...

So un-Dickinson! Thanks for sharing another side of her poetry. If I had read it not knowing she was the author, I never would have guessed.