Lovely Verse.

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Poetry is such an understated, under appreciated type of writing. I was privileged to do a summer program for, I suppose you could call us “scholarly” high school students, and during this program around 350 sixteen or seventeen year-olds spent five weeks on a college campus getting a taste of what college would be like. We had classes that we signed up for, and events to go to. There were many speakers and performers, and it was truly one of the best times of my life. During this time the class I chose was “creative writing” because I had come from a family of writers and thought it would be fun. My teacher came in the first day, wearing a loose, white, button up linen shirt and slightly-baggy khaki pants. He had salt and pepper gray hair that was that length of “too short to be long, but too long to be short”, but it wasn’t so noticeable because it just sort of stuck up and out all over, moving every time he spoke because of how passionately he did so. The first day we did an exercise called “free-writing” and it was invigorating. We were given strict orders to write without stopping and just to write of whatever came to mind for two straight minutes. If you couldn’t think of what to write you wrote “I can’t think of anything else to write…” and so on. We then picked the “juiciest chunk” and used it as the prompt for the next two minutes. This doesn’t sound that difficult, but if you write fast for two minutes straight your hand will immediately start to cramp (which was saying a lot when mine began cramping despite 10 years at that point of classical piano lessons and learning trills that lasted for 8 measures…).

What I was left with were pages of my soul that were now in material form that I could go through, sort, and cherish. Hopes, worries, desires, quirks – they were all just barely under the surface of the skin when I wrote like this, and it was pure catharsis. From this technique we learned poetry – appreciating it, reading it, reciting it, writing it… and I have been in love with this expression of human language ever since. It forces you to slow down, and chew on a few words. It forces you to think and empathize. When you’re writing it, it forces you to pick out your “juiciest chunks” of lines and only use the best ones, making it like having an entire bowl of just marshmallows instead of the normal bowl of Lucky Charms.

I don’t know why, but my soul is always touched by some well-written verse, and I wouldn’t be surprised if poems find their way to this blog a few times in its’ life.

So, enjoy this short, yet stunning poem by Emily Dickinson. This poem was one of hundreds discovered in her desk after she died, and were simply published in a few volumes and titled by number. Note the enjambment of the words- that is, note how she cuts lines off and starts new ones in what seems like the middle of a thought. This is intentional. Try reading one line and visualizing it by itself, then the next line independently as well. Now put them together and see what you get. Note her uses of capitalization and personification – “Sunset” instead of “sunset” – as if Sunset were its name and not just the word for it. She also uses rich adjectives, and throws in an interesting bit of verse on spirituality- speaking of the sunset as if it were God’s watchful eye perhaps. She speaks very deeply as well about human existence, imperfection, and nature. All of this within just a few lines, and there is still more we could talk about, but I won’t make you wait any longer.

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An ignorance a Sunset

Confer upon the Eye –

Of Territory – Color –

Circumference – Decay-

 

Its Amber Revelation

Exhilarate -Debase –

Omnipotence’ inspection

Of Our inferior face-

 

And when the solemn features

Confirm – in Victory –

We start – as if detected

In Immortality-

 

– Emily Dickinson-

 

Just let that settle in for a bit, maybe re-read the lines over a cup of hot coffee and mosey on the front porch for a while.

 

Until next time,

L.E.

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