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  #1  
Unread 03-02-2021, 07:28 PM
Tim McGrath Tim McGrath is offline
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Default Emily Dickinson at her finest

We like March, his shoes are purple,
He is new and high;
Makes he mud for dog and peddler,
Makes the forest dry;
Knows the adder’s tongue his coming,
And begets her spot.
Stands the sun so close and mighty
That our minds are hot.
News is he of all the others;
Bold it were to die
With the blue-birds buccaneering
In his British sky.
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  #2  
Unread 03-03-2021, 12:03 PM
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RCL RCL is offline
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Thanks, Tim. It’s a lovely tribute to March. I prefer it as she wrote it:

We like March - his Shoes are Purple,
He is new and high -
Makes he Mud for Dog and Peddler,
Makes the Forest dry –

Knows the Adder’s Tongue his coming
And begets her Spot.
Stands the Sun so close and mighty
That our Minds are hot.

News is he of all the others -
Bold it were to die
With the Blue Birds buccaneering
On his British Sky –

Franklin 1194

The Poems of Emily Dickinson: Reading Edition
by Emily Dickinson and R. W. Franklin | Oct 28, 2005
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Last edited by RCL; 03-03-2021 at 12:20 PM.
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  #3  
Unread 03-03-2021, 11:44 PM
Tim McGrath Tim McGrath is offline
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Hi RC--

I lifted it from Bartleby's, which subtracts the dashes and the capitalizations and deletes the space between the stanzas. I know I'm in the minority here, but I think that few poets of equal stature were more in need of an editor than Emily Dickinson. But in the this case the poem's brilliance is hardly dimmed in either version. As you say, it's a lovely tribute to March, "With the blue birds buccaneering/In his British sky," a line so characteristic of her at her exuberant best.
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Unread 03-04-2021, 09:04 AM
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Here are two manuscript versions, which are about as "as she wrote it" as you can get.

Version 1 (link is to Page 1, use arrows to see verso and Page 2 + verso)
[S2L1 "Adder tongue", S3L3 "exercising"]

Version 2 (Page 2 only, no image available for Page 1)
[S3L3 "buccaneering"]

Here's Todd's "fair copy" version:

Fair copy (Page 1 of 1)
[S2L1 "Adders tongue", S3L3 "buccaneering"]

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 03-04-2021 at 02:40 PM.
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  #5  
Unread 03-04-2021, 11:38 AM
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RCL RCL is offline
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Tim, Bartleby's, as much as I love it, shouldn't do that. Especially since the white spaces between stanzas are structural and parts of a poem's meaning. But I guess they "prefer not to" leave well enough alone.

Added: The spaces are also a mnemonic since the quatrain is by miles the most frequent and remembered poetic form (ask any kid repeating rhymes).
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Last edited by RCL; 03-04-2021 at 12:00 PM.
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Unread 03-04-2021, 12:13 PM
John Riley John Riley is offline
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I very much don't like the edited versions of her work. I have the Franklin and can read the Johnson but that is it. I hate everything that attempts to smooth out her work. The whole Belle of Amherst BS.
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  #7  
Unread 03-04-2021, 12:41 PM
W T Clark W T Clark is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Riley View Post
I very much don't like the edited versions of her work. I have the Franklin and can read the Johnson but that is it. I hate everything that attempts to smooth out her work. The whole Belle of Amherst BS.


I have to agree. In fact, Dickinson for me is the poet least in need of an editer, especially many of the male ones that took over her poetry after she died. For me, Dickinson's brilliance always lay in her strangeness, and I thought the more coherent or ordinary nature poems the most boring. This, for me, is middle-grade, better than some, but not as good by far as poems such as:

I tried to think a lonelier Thing
Than any I had seen -
Some Polar Expiation - An Omen in the Bone
Of Death’s tremendous nearness -
I probed Retrieveless things5
My Duplicate - to borrow -
A Haggard comfort springs
From the belief that Somewhere -
Within the Clutch of Thought -
There dwells one other Creature10
Of Heavenly Love - forgot -
I plucked at our Partition -
As One should pry the Walls -
Between Himself - and Horror’s Twin -
Within Opposing Cells -15
I almost strove to clasp his Hand,
Such Luxury - it grew -
That as Myself - could pity Him -
Perhaps he - pitied me -
or, more concretely:

A Clock stopped -
Not the Mantel’s -
Geneva’s farthest skill
Cant put the puppet bowing -
That just now dangled still -5
An awe came on the Trinket!
The Figures hunched - with pain -
Then quivered out of Decimals -
Into Degreeless noon -
It will not stir for Doctor’s -10
This Pendulum of snow -
The Shopman importunes it -
While cool - concernless No -
Nods from the Gilded pointers -
Nods from the Seconds slim -15
Decades of Arrogance between
The Dial life -
And Him -

Last edited by W T Clark; 03-04-2021 at 12:44 PM.
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  #8  
Unread 03-04-2021, 12:49 PM
Tim McGrath Tim McGrath is offline
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Dickinson scholarship is dominated by what I call the originalists, who feel that her poems were bastardized by Mabel Loomis Todd. I am grateful that we have the efforts of Franklin and Thomas Johnson, who worked as preservationists, allowing us to see the poems as Dickinson left them. But I still think of Ms. Todd as her first and best editor. She rescued the poems from oblivion and revised those that, in my opinion, were desperately in need of revision. The caps, the dashes, the off-rhymes are, to me, distractions, flaws that interfere with my enjoyment of the poems. The naked poems were as eccentric as the poet herself, but the eccentricities may have been due to carelessness, the curse of the prolific, rather than some modernist tendency attributed to her.

RC, I agree with you that the stanzas of most poems should be allowed to be free standing, but neither Loomis or Bartleby's eliminated the spaces. I don't have Franklin's variorum edition, but Johnson shows that this poem was left to us as a single stanza. Julie Steiner links to photocopies of the original versions, which indicate that Dickinson wrote the poem as a unit, although she had constraints of space and her handwriting seems to be hasty if not buccaneering.

Last edited by Tim McGrath; 03-04-2021 at 12:54 PM.
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  #9  
Unread 03-04-2021, 01:55 PM
John Riley John Riley is offline
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I mean this with as much respect as I can muster, but smoothing out the way she wrote her poems in her own hand in order to make them easier to read is like going back and editing Shakespeare into prose paragraphs. It's the same concept. We find Shakespeare's work too difficult to understand and troublesome in iambics so we turn it into prose. What a travesty to go back and take any artists' work and make it more amenable. God save us from straining a little to meet the artist where he or she wants to be met. If you want amenable read light verse. Dickinson was and is not in desperate need of revision. The challenge is for the reader to realize this and to keep working until they see it or stop reading. Don't go back and take the highly original work of possibly America's greatest poet and "fix it." If she'd wanted it to be read like everyone else's poetry she was perfectly capable of changing it to suit current taste. She was offered the opportunity but, like any real artist, she refused to do so. I do wonder if the fact she was a sheltered woman of the upper-middle class is the reason so many people try to deny the reality that she was an avant-garde poet. One of the first to kick over what nineteenth-century poetry had turned into? I know of no one who is smoothing out Whitman and it isn't only because he self-published his book. She was not the Belle of Amherst. She was the she-wolf of the wild and original.

Also, it must be pointed out that Dickinson's reputation before Johnson did his work was middling at best. It wasn't until a gifted and awestruck editor turned his attention to restoring her work to the original that she exploded in reputation and influence. There is a reason for that. Todd's edits turned her into a conventional poet, no different than dozens. It wasn't until we saw Dickinson herself that she was recognized for her genius.
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  #10  
Unread 03-04-2021, 02:36 PM
Aaron Novick Aaron Novick is offline
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If you want your art dumbed down and more readily digestible, Marvel has an entire cinematic universe you can spend ages exploring. Leave Dickinson alone.
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