Monday

Dec. 10, 2001

258 There's a certain Slant of light,

by Emily Dickinson

367 Over and over, like a Tune

by Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson

by Wendy Cope

MONDAY, 10 DECEMBER 2001
Listen (RealAudio) | How to listen

Poem: "Emily Dickinson," by Wendy Cope from Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis (Faber and Faber), and "There's a certain Slant of light," and "Over and over, like a Tune," by Emily Dickinson from The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson (Little Brown and Company).

Emily Dickinson

Higgledy-piggledy
Emily Dickinson
Liked to use dashes
Instead of full stops.

Nowadays, faced with such
Idiosyncrasy,
Critics and editors
Send for the cops.

There's a certain Slant of light

There's a certain Slant of light,
Winter Afternoons—
That oppresses, like the Heft
Of Cathedral Tunes—

Heavenly Hurt, it gives us—
We can find no scar,
But internal difference,
Where the Meanings, are—

None may teach it—Any—
'Tis the Seal Despair—
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the Air—

When it comes, the Landscape listens—
Shadows—hold their breath—
When it goes, 'tis like the Distance
On the look of Death—

Over and over, like a Tune

Over and over, like a Tune—
The Recollection plays—
Drums off the Phantom Battlements
Cornets of Paradise—

Snatches, from Baptized Generations—
Cadences too grand
But for the Justified Processions
At the Lord's Right hand.

It's the birthday of poet Carolyn Kizer, born in Spokane, Washington (1925). Her books of poetry include The Ungrateful Garden (1961), Mermaids in the Basement (1984), and Cool, Calm, & Collected: Poems 1960-2000 (2000). She won the Pulitzer Prize in 1985 for her collection Yin (1984).

It's the birthday of illustrator Ernest Howard Shepard, born in St. John's Wood, London (1879). He studied art, won competitions, and became an illustrator for the magazine Punch. In 1924, he was asked by the editors of Punch to illustrate a poem called "When We Were Very Young," by a writer named A. A. Milne. Soon afterwards, he was invited to illustrate Milne's book Winnie the Pooh (1926).

It's the birthday of librarian Melvil Dewey, born in Adams Center, New York (1851). While working as an assistant librarian at Amherst College, he invented a new library classification system which became known as the Dewey Decimal System. He went on to help found the American Library Association, edit Library Journal, and establish librarianship as a modern profession. In 1887, he founded the world's first library school, at Columbia College in New York. He was also a campaigner for the adoption of the metric system and for spelling reform. His system of spelling was mostly phonetic, and survives in popular misspellings like "nite" and "lite." For a while, he spelled his own last name "D-u-i."

It's the birthday of Hoosier novelist Edward Eggleston, born in Vevay, Indiana (1837). His first and most famous novel was The Hoosier Schoolmaster (1871), about life in backwoods Indiana. His other novels include The End of the World (1872) and The Mystery of Metropolisville (1873), based on his stay in Cannon City, Minnesota, during the land boom of the mid-1850's. He wrote more novels, and near the end of his life he turned to writing history. His History of Life in the United States (1896) was an early contribution to the new field of social history.

It's the birthday of Emily Dickinson, born in Amherst, Massachusetts (1830). Her father was a lawyer and long-time treasurer of Amherst College. After spending a year at Mount Holyoke Female Academy when she was 16, she returned to her home in Amherst, where she lived as a virtual recluse for the rest of her life. She began to create small volumes of her own poetry, written out on sheets of folded stationery and hand-stitched at the spine. She received her greatest encouragement from the critic Thomas Wentworth Higginson, though she wouldn't allow him to publish any of her poems, which went unpublished until after her death in 1886. She seldom allowed any adults to visit her, but she adored children. She was known to tie pieces of candy to a string and lower them from her bedroom window to children waiting in the garden below. When Higginson asked her to send him her portrait, she gave this description of herself: "I am small, like the wren, and my hair is bold, like the chestnut burr, and my eyes like the sherry in the glass that the guest leaves. Would this do just as well?"

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