Archive for the ‘Literature’ Category

Emily Dickinson, William Carlos Williams

April 2, 2010

I’ve been reading some anthologies of poetry lately and I thought I would reproduce the poems that really struck me. My experience of reading an anthology of a certain poet is that four out of five of the poems “miss” but that lucky number 5 really floors you. This is especially true for Thomas Johnson’s Final Harvest, a five hundred-odd selection of Emily Dickinson’s poems. The best way to read it seems to be to jump to the poems mentioned in the introduction- but even then, a lot of poems fail to make an impression. However, by doing so I came across this poem:

The soul that hath a Guest
Doth seldom go abroad –
Diviner Crowd at Home –
Obliterate the need –

And Courtesy forbid
A Host’s departure when
Upon Himself be visiting
The Emperor of Men –

Emily Dickinson 277 (674)

This is quite simply one of the most clever poems I have come across.

Now for a bizarre (and bizarrely pleasing) poem:

Dans Russe

If I when my wife is sleeping
and the baby and Kathleen
are sleeping
and the sun is a flame-white disc
in silken mists
above shining trees,-
if I in my north room
dance naked, grotesquely
before my mirror
waving my shirt round my head
and singing softly to myself:

‘I am lonely, lonely.
I was born to be lonely,
I am best so!’
If I admire my arms, my face
my shoulders, flanks, buttocks
against the yellow drawn shades,-

Who shall say I am not
the happy genius of my household?

William Carlos Williams

The succession of images is just so ridiculous that it’s hilarious. The last line really knocks you out.

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The Devil in the White City, Tropic of Cancer

February 23, 2010

Despite its early intrigue, The Devil in the White City has come to bore me. I am currently two hundred pages into it, moaning the lackluster storyline about the architecture of the fair. It’s somewhat interesting on a factual level, but you don’t need to read a novel to learn facts. Even worse, the H.H. Holmes storyline, which originally fascinated me, has started to pall. The novel doesn’t teach me anything about life, and it doesn’t instill an aesthetic bliss.

I am perhaps ready to say goodbye to this novel, in which case I’d move onto the next book on my reading list — Tropic of Cancer. I highly anticipate this novel as it is about an American expatriate degenerate. Even better it is autobiographical. It seems that the most vivid scenes are those that are borrowed from the author’s own life. I was recommended this novel by my friend Casey, when I asked for something along the lines of Justine or Nabokov (more specifically, a deviant first-person narrator). I plan to pick it up tomorrow at the university bookstore since I am banned from the Reg.