Another Dickinson poem this week. Has anyone seen the new movie about Dickinson’s life? A Quiet Passion (watch the trailer here) stars Cynthia Nixon & Jennifer Ehle as Dickinson & her sister, Vinnie. The reviews I’ve read have been mixed but I will definitely be seeing it when it opens here next month.
This is one of my favourites &, like last week’s poem, features a bird although not being stalked by a cat this time. I like the idea of Hope being personified (anthropomorphised?) in this way. Dickinson always looks at the world in unusual ways, Tell all the truth but tell it slant, as she says.
‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers—
That perches in the soul—
And sings the tune without the words—
And never stops—at all—
And sweetest—in the Gale—is heard—
And sore must be the storm—
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm—
I’ve heard it in the chillest land—
And on the strangest Sea—
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb—of Me
Here’s an Emily Dickinson poem that I don’t think I’ve ever read before. I was looking for a poem about cats, autumn & holidays (I’ve just started two weeks holiday from work). Maybe that was a bit too specific but I did find this list of cat poems at Interesting Literature. Lucky & Phoebe do a bit of pretend hunting like the cat in this poem but they don’t catch anything. They’re so well fed that I think any hunting is a bit half-hearted anyway. Lucky had nine teeth out just before Easter (not that it stopped her eating, of course) so that, combined with natural laziness, means she does all her hunting in her dreams. I love Dickinson’s description of the way a cat flattens itself when it sights its prey, so exactly right. I also love the fact that the robin escapes.
She sights a Bird—she chuckles—
She flattens—then she crawls—
She runs without the look of feet—
Her eyes increase to Balls—
Her Jaws stir—twitching—hungry—
Her Teeth can hardly stand—
She leaps, but Robin leaped the first—
Ah, Pussy, of the Sand,
The Hopes so juicy ripening—
You almost bathed your Tongue—
When Bliss disclosed a hundred Toes—
And fled with every one—
Emily Dickinson is one of my favourite poets & this is one of my favourite poems. It’s passionate & ecstatic but also warm & comforting, describing the wildness outside & the comfort within.
It’s quoted near the end of Murder is Academic by Christine Poulson, which I finished reading on Friday & will be reviewing next week.
Wild nights – Wild nights!
Were I with thee
Wild nights should be
Futile – the winds –
To a Heart in port –
Done with the Compass –
Done with the Chart!
Rowing in Eden –
Ah – the Sea!
Might I but moor – tonight –