It troubled me as once I was For I once was a child Concluding how an atom fell And yet the heavens held ….
Life set me larger problems Some I shall keep to solve …
This was my introduction to Emily Dickinson. I was glancing through my chemistry textbook in my second year of undergraduate studies, and I came across this (a version of the poem above, I am reciting what I remember of it). I believe it was love at first sight: I paused and read it, and I have not been able to forget it, well, the jest of it.
She was at the forefront of American poetry (second half of 19th century); some believe she had the most influence on what was to become an American style of poetry.
She had volumes of poems on subjects such as death, love, sex, nature,… How many of her poems do you think got published in her life time? Wrong! Only ten or twelve. Imagine how that stands up to today’s standards of “you have to market yourself, give thousands of talks, talk shows, interviews, etc., etc.”
She never bothered with any of these; in fact, she deliberately closed the door to the world to devote herself entirely to her art. And it makes me think of this desperate need that broods over this age to get fast, widespread attention, recognition, and sales. Why do you think that is? Here is this woman who devoted her life to her art and set the foundation for a whole new style of poetry in a huge nation, and she didn’t care for exposure or getting published, not to mention making money. She did what she thought she should do, what she wanted to do. How do we view her today with our standards? A loser?
Today, we feel this urge to express or broadcast the simplest things we do: take a look at facebook messages: X is reading this, Y is going to such movie, Z is bored, W is having a huge hamburger … Nothing must be missed, everything has to be recorded, viewed even if by a few strangers. Why?
Much Madness is the divinest Sense – To a discerning Eye- …. Assent – and you are sane- Demure – you’re straightway dangerous- And handled with a Chain-