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For most of her life Emily Dickinson regularly embedded poems, disguised as prose, in her lively and thoughtful letters. Although many critics have commented on the poetic quality of Dickinson's letters, William Shurr is the first to draw fully developed poems from them. In this remarkable volume, he presents nearly 500 new poems that he and his associates excavated from her correspondence, thereby expanding the canon of Dickinson's known poems by almost one-third and making a remarkable addition to the study of American literature.

Here are new riddles and epigrams, as well as longer lyrics that have never been seen as poems before. While Shurr has reformatted passages from the letters as poetry, a practice Dickinson herself occasionally followed, no words, punctuation, or spellings have been changed. Shurr points out that these new verses have much in common with Dickinson's well-known poems: they have her typical punctuation (especially the characteristic dashes and capitalizations); they use her preferred hymn or ballad meters; and they continue her search for new and unusual rhymes. Most of all, these poems continue Dickinson's remarkable experiments in extending the boundaries of poetry and human sensibility.


Let's set the scene...

We're sitting in Mr. Medina's class at Chilton.

Max: "There's a certain slant of light, winter afternoons that oppresses like the heft of cathedral tunes." That, my friends is the first verse of a poem by Emily Dickenson. Now read some of those tonight, and as you do, consider the fact that Emily Dickenson writes convincingly about passion and about the world in spite of the fact that she lived as a virtual recluse. It'll help you appreciate her mind. (bell rings)


My thoughts:

In this challenge, I have come to find that it's hard to simply sit down with a big book o' poems and read it cover to cover.  I find that poetry is something best enjoyed and appreciated when one picks up the volume, flips to a random page and immerses herself in one particular poem.  A poem needs to be savored and thought over throughout the day.  It does a serious disservice to the most notable poets to just read their work, one right after another.  But... unfortunately, I don't really have an option in this challenge.  So, while I probably didn't get all I could have out of Miss Dickinson's work... I was thankful for the opportunity to spend some time with her.


I have a few friends who could tell you more about Emily Dickinson's poetry and the various nuances throughout her work.  However, I'm a mere civilian who simply knows what sounds pretty.  And Dickinson's work is definitely pleasing to the ear.  I would love to spend more time within her work, deciphering her riddles and absorbing some of the wit that you don't quite expect from a notorious recluse.




Who do I see reading this in the Stars Hollow gazebo?

Lulu is most certainly eccentric, but with a heart of gold.  I see someone like her truly appreciating the beauty of Emily Dickinson's words..

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