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Emily Dickinson daguerreotype
Emily Dickinson was more than the prim grin with small hands as seen in that old daguerreotype. Poor gal wears an unfortunate badge of being this little thing who hid in the shadows. She was rather worldly in ideology for a woman who spent her life with a nose in a book and a quill in the ink. She was not as chaste as many think; I believe she had at least two secret suitors. After all, her Master letters alone suggest that she delved in a bit of scandal. (Deriving this information from Brenda Wineapple’s biography White Heat.)

Back to business at hand, however, over at Coursera, there are continuous discussions regarding Dickinson’s poems. We’ve viewed several close read videos on Dickinson’s poems. We’ve All got an opinion.

“Tell All the Truth but Tell it at a Slant” is written as a ballad in traditional ED style. There was much discussion regarding what she was saying about truth. Is truth to be told, or is it to be danced around in order to not overwhelm the receiver of said truth.

Personally, I felt she was poking a bit of fun at those of us who are blinded by the ‘truth’. The sing-song ballad form helped to remind me that Ms. Dickinson didn’t hold much stock in many people and had felt the injustice of lies. I cannot help but circle back to her contrarian ways; her lack of regard for the confines of religion and its God.

“The Brain, within its Groove” was a lively discussion on video. One can tell that Dr. Filreis digs this poem for its complexity. What struck me was not so much the interpretation but the image the two stanzas conjured when I first read. Perhaps focusing on this is a waste of time, but as one who ‘paint’s with words, I find what the mind ‘draws’ fascinating.

This was my question posted on forum today:

Wondered if anyone had a thought on this line: ‘Twere easier for You– Is she saying that it is easier to let the imagination have free rein verses trying to control its course?

(sidebar observation: what I found most interesting about this poem was the visual that formed while reading. The first read conjured an image of the literal brain as one would see in anatomy with the groove running between both hemispheres. When the second stanza was read, the use of the hills being slit by the floods seemed to mirror the brain image, though the groove was no longer running true.)

Tomorrow, I shall dive into Whitman. He is the opposite of Dickinson; he is not one for brevity. Laws of Creation just winked its blue lid from its dusty perch.. Walt and i shall take another turn thru the autumn leaves. ~

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