I Dare You To Read an Emily Dickinson Poem Every Day.
So, I’m not an Emily Dickinson scholar.
I’m not even a poet or a big fan of Dickinson’s work (yes — I studied creative writing my entire adult life; yes — I wrote my own poems for class and read plenty of contemporary writers). But I am appreciative of what words can do, what ideas manifested as language can become, and how powerful it may be to read good material. One poem, one quote, can possibly change your perception of the day. Or, at least, half the day.
Emily Dickinson’s poems do the trick for me. I’m not quite sure exactly how her poems affect me, but they do in subtle ways. Sometimes I have to work a little harder to perceive what she means. But the messages are simple with some of her poems.
I think poetry, at least fun poetry, doesn’t stress too hard when it comes to “meaning”. The author lets the words and the cadence do their thing on the page. Many times the author is perplexed by his or her language. So confusion (perplex) is a part of the process of reading and writing poetry.
Alright — so why read Emily Dickinson? Well, you don’t have to read one of her poems. You can read whatever makes you feel good.
I came across this Dickinson poem. Simple, right? Not much imagery. Nothing too weird. The subject: LOVE. A grandiose theme that she’s able to capture in four lines, in a breath.
I would read something like this for about three to five times — enough times to really soak it in. And for the rest of the day, or for some parts of the day, I think about love. I think about the “initial of creation”. When I think about such things, I am brought out of my daily problems. Whatever I’m worried about doesn’t seem so bad.
Now, not every poem can have that affect. Other times I come across a poem that I read three or four times, and nothing tickles my soul. I’m like what the fuck did I just read?…and I’m sure many people are like that too.
Poetry — Music’s Close Relative
I tend to look at poems as songs. Or, possibly, poetry is the endoskeleton of a song. Everyday, I put on my headphones and consume some form of music. Music amplifies whatever I’m feeling (ex. Black Angels whenever I’m feeling badass), forces a sense of flow and purpose, and transports me outside the realms of reality — think a theme song to a television show as the main character does his/her “routine”.
Can poetry do the same thing?
Maybe not with the same visceral intensity and immediacy. After reading a poem, there’s much more ruminating going on. There’s the process of re-reading. Re-reading through a poem (or any written material) is something that I am trying to get better at. There are nuances that we always miss the first, the second, the third time we read through something. Maybe the title of this post should be called: “Sweeping Through the Layers…”
You definitely have to work harder with poetry. It definitely feels more time-consuming. But, like music, I believe poetry tends to shape our day. Although the affect is slightly different. Poetry contextualizes whatever I’m feeling, suggests a sense of flow and purpose, and transports me inside the realms of reality.
I leave you with two more:
Ambition cannot find him.
Affection doesn’t know
How many leagues of nowhere
Lie between them now
For our mutual honor,