Monday, February 26, 2007


There’s this poet whose works I always loved to read, understand and remember.

I am referring to Emily Dickinson and this special attraction to her poems began with a simple and short one that I read in high school.I remember it till day, every word of it, including some punctuation marks. Emily Dickinson is known for awkward placement of punctuation marks, extensive usage of dashes and inappropriate capitalization of script. Just glancing through a set of poems from her "Complete Works" will suffice to prove the above statement.

Probably, remembering the poem itself is not a big deal but I must say that this was the only poem (of 12 years of English lessons at school) which meant a lot and made a lot of sense.

Success is counted sweetest

By those who ne’er succeed.

To comprehend a nectar

Requires sorest need.

Not one of all the purple host

Who took the flag to-day

Can tell the definition,

So clear, of victory,

As he, defeated, dying,

On whose forbidden ear

The distant strains of triumph

Break, agonized and clear.

I am sure each one of us would have felt something of this sorts "so near .... yet so far" at some point of time.The above poem offers a more meaningful reading for all those who fit into the
"Always a bridesmaid, never a bride" category.

It is said that Emily Dickinson led a very introverted life, her life merely confined to a small room in her family’s house in Amherst,a village in England;a room that had a single window which opened out to a graveyard. Many quote this as the reason for her morbid fascination for death as the subject for a large number of her poems. However, some say that she was influenced to a great extent by works of Emerson and Blake who largely spoke of life and death, a perception of life beyond that provided by the five senses etc.

This is a famous line from Blakes’ works- “If the doors of perception were cleansed, every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite
I have still not got down to interpreting this statement too very well but I just happened to read that this one line found a prominent place in literature,movies and music.

Here’s another of my favourites from Emily Dickinson’s works – pretty simple and nice.

If I can stop one heart from breaking,

I shall not live in vain;

If I can ease one life the aching,

Or cool one pain,

Or help one fainting robin

Unto his nest again,

I shall not live in vain. is a good link which provides the entire set of Emily Dickinson’s poems.A casual analysis into sections of poems on Life, Time and Eternity will make us sit back and wonder about the mysticism that wraps her works;ponder how an agoraphobic, reclusive female who dropped out of school in mid-teens could grab such an unusual view of the world around her.

Some of her poems are very difficult to comprehend, some are intense and depressing but for those who love poetry, Emily Dickinson is the most perfect embodiment, an epitome of literary class.

Here is a line by her to conclude this post – A word is dead when it is said, some say. I say , it just begins to Live That Day.

1 comment:

Dhanaraja Kasinathan said...

I loved emily dickenson's poems too. I jus dont recollect now. but thats a careful analysis DS