Friday, October 29, 2004

I'm nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us -don't tell!
They'd banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!

I've always liked Emily Dickenson. She's on my list of favorite poets (which also includes Sylvia Plath, William Carlos Williams, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and Mark Strand). She writes with such an innocent, childlike tone, but her topics and themes are so deep and serious.

The above is one of my favorites. The persona in this poem is someone who revels in melting into the background. Yet she seems to feel a certain excitement when she finds someone else lurking back there with her. But she doesn't want to be outed (so to speak). She and her companion seem to be content existing in anonymity.

I was taught that Dickenson was never published within her life time because she was a recluse who bucked the trend of what was considered to be acceptable in the world of poetry at that time - strict meter and rhyme scheme. But maybe she was happy in her anonymity. Maybe she was content with writing for herself, and no one else mattered. Perhaps she found validation in simply seeing her own words in her own hand on paper and didn't need the validation of critics or scholars.

Dickenson is always painted as being somewhat depressed and, well, a bit of an odd duck. Some scholars believed she was insecure and suffered with a low self esteem. But maybe, just maybe, the opposite was true. Maybe she was so secure that she didn't need the approval of anyone else. Maybe she was able to write about death and isolation with a lighthearted tone because she was happy and didn't despair in those things. Maybe she was happy just the way she was.

Or maybe I'm really bored at work again and needed a way to stay awake. But it's something to think about.

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