Favourite Poets: Edgar Allen Poe, Romance

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Romance, who loves to nod and sing,
With drowsy head and folded wing,
Among the green leaves as they shake
Far down within some shadowy lake,
To me a painted paroquet
Hath been—a most familiar bird—
Taught me my alphabet to say—
To lisp my very earliest word
While in the wild wood I did lie,
A child—with a most knowing eye.
Of late, eternal Condor years
So shake the very Heaven on high
With tumult as they thunder by,
I have no time for idle cares
Through gazing on the unquiet sky.
And when an hour with calmer wings
Its down upon my spirit flings—
That little time with lyre and rhyme
To while away—forbidden things!
My heart would feel to be a crime
Unless it trembled with the strings.
I haven’t read this one in so long I’d actualy forgotten it; crime! I’m terrible at remembering the names of poems so I suppose I can forgive myself a little… this poem is fairly short, compacts so much into its relatively few lines, and that bird theme throughout it just carries you through it. Love, love and love 🙂

Favourite Poets: Edgar Allen Poe, The Valley Of Unrest

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Once it smiled a silent dell
Where the people did not dwell;
They had gone unto the wars,
Trusting to the mild-eyed stars,
Nightly, from their azure towers,
To keep watch above the flowers,
In the midst of which all day
The red sun-light lazily lay.
Now each visitor shall confess
The sad valley’s restlessness.
Nothing there is motionless—
Nothing save the airs that brood
Over the magic solitude.
Ah, by no wind are stirred those trees
That palpitate like the chill seas
Around the misty Hebrides!
Ah, by no wind those clouds are driven
That rustle through the unquiet Heaven
Uneasily, from morn till even,
Over the violets there that lie
In myriad types of the human eye—
Over the lilies there that wave
And weep above a nameless grave!
They wave:—from out their fragrant tops
External dews come down in drops.
They weep:—from off their delicate stems
Perennial tears descend in gems.
Okay, on to a next favourite poet, which was off to a bad start to begin with because there’s just so many. The Valley Of Unrest is typical Poe, conjuring the most beautiful imagery with perfectly chosen words, it’s short, simple, yet really effective. Beautiful poem, start to finish.

Favourite Poets: Emily Dickinson, Hope is the thing with feathers

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That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –
I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.

And the last favourite poem of Dickinson is my own favourite, as I’m sure it is for many. Because hope is the thing that keeps us going, flying, getting on with things, even if we’re surrounded by troubles.

Favourite Poets: Emily Dickinson, I dwell in Possibility

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A fairer House than Prose –
More numerous of Windows –
Superior – for Doors –
Of Chambers as the Cedars –
Impregnable of eye –
And for an everlasting Roof
The Gambrels of the Sky –
Of Visitors – the fairest –
For Occupation – This –
The spreading wide my narrow Hands
To gather Paradise –

Dickinson really doesn’t like prose, does she?! I mean, poetry is powerful, we know that, so it’s more than reasonable for a poet to show that power. If there ever needs to be a case for why you can say so much with so few words, this poem might be it.

Favourite Poets, Emily Dickinson, Because I could not stop for death

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He kindly stopped for me –
The Carriage held but just Ourselves –
And Immortality.
We slowly drove – He knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For His Civility –
We passed the School, where Children strove
At Recess – in the Ring –
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain –
We passed the Setting Sun –
Or rather – He passed Us –
The Dews drew quivering and Chill –
For only Gossamer, my Gown –
My Tippet – only Tulle –
We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground –
The Roof was scarcely visible –
The Cornice – in the Ground –
Since then – ’tis Centuries – and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses’ Heads
Were toward Eternity –

This is such a beautiful poem. The journey we take with the subject as they pass from life through to death and then on to immortality is insightful, poignant. If there was a poem for someone frightened of death, perhaps this might be it; not that this is glorifying death in any way. It’s more like someone is holding a person’s hand as they go, showing them that although they’re leaving life behind as such, there is nothing to fear. There’s allusions to life also being a struggle and that by letting go of time, we free ourselves. Really, really love this poem.

Favourite Poets: Emily Dickinson, This World Is Not Conclusion

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A Species stands beyond –
Invisible, as Music –
But positive, as Sound –
It beckons, and it baffles –
Philosophy, don’t know –
And through a Riddle, at the last –
Sagacity, must go –
To guess it, puzzles scholars –
To gain it, Men have borne
Contempt of Generations
And Crucifixion, shown –
Faith slips – and laughs, and rallies –
Blushes, if any see –
Plucks at a twig of Evidence –
And asks a Vane, the way –
Much Gesture, from the Pulpit –
Strong Hallelujahs roll –
Narcotics cannot still the Tooth
That nibbles at the soul –

Dickinson’s poems so often start out with a structure that always reminds me of The Scientific Method. Now, hear me out, for those of you who don’t think art and science should mix. She starts her poems with a statement – think of this as a hypothesis, then uses the poem to research her ideas and either prove or disprove it. Maybe that’s a huge reach; that’s just what has come to me looking at this one. ‘There’s more to life than this, there’s more to this world than that we can see.’ I like this idea a lot. Beautifully done.

Favourite Poets: Emily Dickinson, Before I got my eye put out

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I liked as well to see
As other creatures, that have eyes –
And know no other way –
But were it told to me, Today,
That I might have the Sky
For mine, I tell you that my Heart
Would split, for size of me –
The Meadows – mine –
The Mountains – mine –
All Forests – Stintless stars –
As much of noon, as I could take –
Between my finite eyes –
The Motions of the Dipping Birds –
The Morning’s Amber Road –
For mine – to look at when I liked,
The news would strike me dead –
So safer – guess – with just my soul
Opon the window pane
Where other creatures put their eyes –
Incautious – of the Sun –

The imagery of this poem is sort of stunning, isn’t it? ‘Before I didn’t realise I was equal with everyone else, I viewed the world as though I belonged here. And now you tell me the world is equal, I’m having trouble believing it.’ More or less. Interpret, as you will, as always, but that’s what I take away from this.