Ranger Kathryn's Arches

April 20, 2012

Oh, Emily D!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kathryn Colestock-Burke @ 2:44 pm
Tags: , , , ,

"Yellow she affords only scantly and selectly..." (see text)
February sunset from my front porch in Canyonlands National Park
Note extravagant use of scarlet (see text)

“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.)


  1. Incomparable Emily – she who described a hummingbird thusly, “A resonance of emerald, a rush of cochineal”, she who wrote, “Because I could not stop for Death he kindly stopped for me”. She observes of a snake, “But never met this fellow, Attended or alone, Without a tighter breathing And zero at the bone”. ‘Zero at the bone”? How incredibly perfect is that??? This stanza makes me think of you, K, “Inebriate of air am I And debauchee of dew, Reeling thro’ endless summer days, From inns of molten blue.” How about this for imagery? “There’s a certain slant of light, Winter afternoons, That oppresses like the heft, of Cathedral Tunes.” Instead of saying, ‘We must take the bitter with the better’, Emily finds theses phrases: “For each ecstatic instant We must an anguish pay In keen and quivering ratio To the ecstasy.”
    The world without Dickinson? A poorer place, indeed.

    Comment by leroque — April 20, 2012 @ 3:41 pm | Reply

    • Thanks for that delicious potpourri of Emily D, Dad. I especially liked the stanza that reminded you of me. I agree.

      Comment by Kathryn Burke — April 22, 2012 @ 10:35 pm | Reply

  2. Happy John Muir Day, Kathryn.

    Comment by Allen Gislason — April 21, 2012 @ 6:04 am | Reply

    • What a special greeting! Thank you! In high school I did a HUGE paper on John Muir and read everything I could get my hands on that was about or by him. My bedroom walls were papered with posters containing inspiring quotes from him, with mountaintops and redwood trees and all other sorts of natural glory. There is no doubt that my high school readings shaped my adult values about the environment. I accept your fine wishes, with joy!

      Comment by Kathryn Burke — April 22, 2012 @ 10:38 pm | Reply

  3. Sublime!!!! Thank you for the inspiration to read some poetry. You ARE an inspiration, Kathryn!

    Comment by Kathy Lewis — April 21, 2012 @ 7:12 am | Reply

    • I would love to hear back when you have read something wonderful and need to tell someone!

      Comment by Kathryn Burke — April 22, 2012 @ 10:39 pm | Reply

  4. Happy National Parks Week, my dear friend.
    The English department at Mayo High school had a poetry evening a few years back. Wine with that also mmmm. We had a recitation of a favorite poem. I chose Robert Frost’s Come In. The English department was surprised a biology nerd could recite with the best of them. It was a wonderful evening and insightful as to what each of us chose and why.
    Robert Frost is a poet dear to my heart. Thank you for making me stop to think about getting back to rereading his poetry.

    Comment by Deb — April 21, 2012 @ 11:55 am | Reply

  5. Reblogged this on myhobbyamazon and commented:
    Every sigle blade of grass and every flake of snow
    is just a vee bit differend…There’s no two alike, you know.
    From something small, like grains of sand
    to each gigantic star.
    all were made with this in maind:
    to be just what they are !
    from poem by James T. Moore

    Comment by myhobbyamazon — June 4, 2012 @ 10:41 am | Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: