“A chief event of life is the day in which we have encountered a mind that startled us.”
– (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
A library book from the “D” poetry shelf is now my constant companion. I don’t know what it is: her unexpected word usage? Her metaphors that make me blink, and think? Her courageous unconventional style? Her profound nature observation? Emily Dickinson‘s skilfulness with the English language, with conveying deep thoughts in few words, has stolen my breath away.
Her mind startles me. The “Belle of Amherst” uses words like an artisan uses tools. Brace yourself for the two arresting similes in this short poem:
Nature rarer uses yellow / Than another hue; / Saves she all of that for sunsets, — / Prodigal of blue,
Spending scarlet like a woman, / Yellow she affords / Only scantly and selectly, / like a lover’s words.
Oh my. Oh my. In a mere eight lines of verse, the color yellow has just been elevated from mundane to sublime. Suddenly I have an appetite for more — more of whatever she has written. Nature? Life? Love? Eternity? I’ll devour it all.
Please, go to your local library. Find a book of poems by anybody. Anthologies, selected poems, favorites, doesn’t matter. Carry it around with you and read it on your lunch hour for a week. Find one that resonates deep in your soul. Read it to someone on the bus. Perhaps the mail carrier or FedEx deliverer would like some verse, or your boss or your cubicle-mate. Phone a friend and read a poem aloud. It’s delightfully Bohemian if you add brie, a bottle of wine and a guitar, collecting a few friends to share their favorites one evening; you’ll all be richer for the effort. Do it.
(Brought to you by the entirely fictitious Council for the Promotion of Ranger Literacy. Next post returns us to our regularly-scheduled programming.)