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Emily Dickinson: An Early Imagist, by Elizabeth Shepley Sergeant -- (pg.3)|
from The New Republic, 1915, Review of the The Single Hound
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here is, I think, less of human passion in this collection than in the earlier ones; and somewhat less, perhaps, of that so exquisite and intense identification with nature which Mrs. Bianchi mentions. Yet what a skipping sense -- one feels it in one's very heels -- of the life of bee, bird, flower, hill, cloud, wind, and sun is here.
Beauty crowds me till I die,
she cries. There are also nature poems, as the one that begins:
The winds drew off
Like hungry dogs
Defeated of a bone --
which for sheer "decorative" quality might go into an imagist anthology. The following is typical of the more resonant and abstruse Dickinsonian manner:
The long sigh of the Frog
Upon a Summer's day,
Upon the revery.
But his receding swell
Substantiates a peace,
That makes the ear inordinate
For corporeal release.
For the "phosphorescence" of poetry, however, give me:
A little madness in the Spring
Is wholesome even for the King,
But God be with the Clown,
Who ponders this tremendous scene --
This whole experiment of green,
As if it were his own!
"Pondering" kept Emily Dickinson face to face with the other side of the visible world. Half her impatience with her kind was that they prated of "charming April Day"; mistook "the outside for the in"; talked, as she says in a letter, "of sacred things aloud and embarrass my dog." Her own curious imagination sought the "area superior" beyond each day and life. Death was her constant preoccupation; the "overtakelessness" of those who had accomplished it was more majestic than the majesties of earth. Sometimes she wrote of it with utter simplicity:
To-day or this noon,
She dwelt so close,
I almost touched her;
To-night she lies
Past neighborhood --
And bough and steeple --
Now past surmise.
Again, inquisitively sybilline:
How went the agile kernel out --
Contusion of the husk,
Nor rip nor wrinkle indicate --
But just an Asterisk.
Emily Dickinson: Early Feminist Essays