Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Gorgeous Nothings

The Gorgeous Nothings: Emily Dickinson's Envelope PoemsThe Gorgeous Nothings: Emily Dickinson's Envelope Poems by Emily Dickinson

You will never be able to see how Vermeer painted a canvas, but if you open "The Gorgeous Nothings" you can catch a glimpse of Emily Dickinson's mind at work. I started thinking I would read one or two and found myself gobbling a dozen, then going back and looking again at the alternate words and phrases, as she worked out a line, tried out a different phrase. So small, intimate and personal. The difference between her printed works and these handwritten facsimiles is similar to the email and the handwritten note. Both get the job done, but the handwritten note conveys the person within its language. If you're skeptical, here's an example.

As old as Woe --
How old is that?
Some eighteen thousand years --
As old as Bliss
How old is that
They are of equal years

Together chiefest they are found
But seldom side by side
From neither of them tho' he try
Can Human nature hide

Now, take a look at the original at the Emily Dickson Archive.

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