Google+ Followers

Friday, August 16, 2013

Words You Can Feel

I lost a world the other day.
Has anybody found?
You'll know it by the row of stars
Around its forehead bound.

A rich man might not notice it;
Yet to my frugal eye
Of more esteem than ducats.
Oh, find it, sir, for me!
Emily Dickinson


"When my father’s medical practice kept him out in the evening, my mother turned dinner into a reading-out-loud hour, with poetry the bill of fare: Eugene Field, Robert Louis Stevenson, Edgar Allan Poe, H. D., Emily Dickinson. If you fall for Dickinson early, you’re committed to language for life, and almost unavoidably to Dickinson’s kind of language. It’s more concrete than just words on a page or in the air. It’s language as a physical material, a substance so concentrated that you can all but hold it in your hands, turn it over, feel its textures. And it’s addictive. Once in your system, it’s impossible to shake, like a neurological imprint. In my experience, Longfellow’s intensely visual poetry was like a mural or a movie. You just wanted to stand back and let it happen to you. Dickinson’s language was visual, too, but in a startling, flashbulb way — a bang of illumination after which your vision took time to adjust to normal light. Poetry, in general, made me sense that language could be about big, urgent subjects, the kind that ruffled even a 9-year-old mind. Will everyone I love always be here? If not, where, exactly, is heaven, and what does it look like? Perhaps most important to a writer in formation, Dickinson’s language felt personally usable. It made you want to write, made you think you could. So I did, just for the pleasure and power of creating pictures from words."
Holland Cotter (A critic of the New York Times)

No comments:

Post a Comment