Sunday, September 9, 2012

Poetry Monday: Emily Dickinson

ModPo is here! We're just about to begin the 10 week long course in Modern and Contemporary poetry (30,000 worldwide participants and rising! Who says poetry isn't popular?) and I'm afraid you, dear readers, are going to be following my updates every (poetry) monday as I talk about the course and what I'm experiencing from it (or at least giving you a taste of the poets I'm enjoying). I'll try and keep things rather brief, but that's not usually my style, so apologies in advance if I go a little overboard. You already know I'm a poetry nerd, and the course is going to be something of a feeding frenzy for me, so forewarned is forearmed.  Now I did tell you last week as we skimmed the surface of Walt Whitman, that Emily D was coming to Poetry Monday this week. One of my earliest exposures to Dickinson was via my dear uncle, who composed the most beautiful version of 101 or "Will There Really Be a Morning". I've had this piece of music in my head all week (with Ricky's voice) and now I'm gifting you with it.  This version is sung by soprano Maria Mascari and played by pianist Ken Dake. Mascari really draws out the longing inherent in the words: the long dark night, and the hunger for clarity and freedom from pain. 

Though the course doesn't start until tomorrow, the Facebook page for it has been extremely active, and instructor Al Filreis posted up a short Dickinson poem (185) with the words "Let's Discuss":

"Faith" is a fine invention
When Gentlemen can see—
But Microscopes are prudent
In an Emergency. 

We had 256 responses to this, and some of these responses changed my perspective of the poem.  My initial response was the obvious (light, tongue-in-cheek) science trumping religion, but Dickinson chooses her words so carefully, and I began to look closer at the fresh way she combines her words and to think about the very female perspective she represents on empirical wisdom, sitting as she does here, between the priest and the doctor.  Look closer, she seems to be telling us to go deeper.  There's more below the surface. Not everything is immediately visible to a "Gentleman's" eye. Feel free to chime in with your own interpretation. Or just enjoy Mascari's exquisite voice on what I think is one of Dickinson's most moving (and accessible) poems.

1 comment:

  1. This is utterly lovely & Mascari's voice is indeed stunning. Thank you so much for alerting us all to it.

    I am determined to comment directly on your post. Let's see if it will work this time!