Friday, July 28, 2006

Nobody

Ok ... I think these late nights sitting up blogging mean that my body-clock is now somewhere in Central Europe. Should help with the transition a few weeks hence. Anyway, earlier in the day dad dug up a little paperback volume we'd picked up at a used bookstore in Boston a few years back: 100 favorite poems. So we went through a few ... this one by Emily Dickinson I really liked for some reason!
I'm Nobody! Who are you?
Are you—Nobody—Too?
Then there's a pair of us!
Don't tell! they'd advertise—you know!

How dreary—to be—Somebody!
How public—like a Frog—
To tell one's name—the livelong June—
To an admiring Bog!
His quip: "Change that to blog" :-) ¡Buenas noches!

4 comments:

St. Elizabeth of Cayce said...

So, not as easy to sing as some of her poems, but it still works...

Proving once again that you can sing any Emily Dickinson poem to "The Yellow Rose of Texas." (or Gilligan's Island, your choice.)

Liz

assiniboine said...

Well actually, to indulge in the decidedly non-Dickinsian conceit of quoting myself (when I posted another of her poems on the Wondering Minstrels), "It is easy to patronise 'Emily,' as her academic critics invariably rather astonishingly call her - not 'Dickinson'; not even 'Miss Dickinson' or 'Emily Dickinson' - does one ever hear of 'Twain' or 'Whitman'? Nope: they are always 'Mark Twain' and 'Walt Whitman'; fair enough, but why is Emily Dickinson always 'Emily'?

"Well, she had a rather sheltered sequestered small town Old Maid Yankee existence. And her poems are all in 86 86 Common Metre, like the 19th century hymns that would have been familiar to her at Sunday Congregational church meetings. One wonders just how wide her reading could have been, not to speak of her acquaintance: she might, after all, be simply an astonishingly sensitive and acute original. Certainly her real life experience was extremely straitened; she took her reclusiveness very seriously - her poetry was mostly found after her death sewn up in 'fascicles,' as she called them; in 20th entury terms she would doubtless be regarded as a pathological case and have been locked up like Robert Lowell; and in, say, 4th century terms she would undoubtedly be in the canon of saints."

So no, not "The Yellow Rose of Texas" or "Gilligan's Island"; rather, "By cool Siloam's shady rill" or "The Lord's my shepherd, I'll not want." Though actually the first first doesn't really scan and you'd have to insert a couple of melismas to make it work.

Gashwin said...

Well ... I'm quite ignorant of some things American: things having to do with TV (I don't know the tune for Gilligan's Island. I've never seen a single episode!) or Protestant hymnody (which, I'll grant, is almost always far superior to the fare one gets in the Catholic world these days).

FYI, a while back the Atlantic Monthly had republished an article their editor wrote back in 1891 on the popularity and rise of Emily Dickinson. Here's the introduction and the article.

assiniboine said...

Perhaps the default can soon be partially remedied, if that Australian Anglican/Congregationalist/Methodist/Presbyterian/Roman Catholic hymn book (and accompanying CD) ever arrives. Though it may not entirely equip you to call yourself familiar with American evangelical Protestant and Anglican hymnody (it's essentially a second and much improved edition of a similarly cross-denominational Canadian hymn book): it never fails to perplex me when I am in the US that one can go to an Episcopal church and hear four perfectly familiar hymns sung to totally unknown tunes.