Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Emily Dickinson

     Although I do not consider any of Emily Dickinson's poems "mathematical," I find that she does not shy from using the terminology of mathematics. For example, her repetition of the word "circumference" noted in an earlier posting.  (To search this blog for mentions of Dickinson (1830 - 1886) or any other poet or topic, follow the instructions offered in green in the column to the right.)
     Dickinson is on my mind these recent days following my opportunity last Saturday evening to attend a session of a conference held by the Emily Dickinson International Society.  A gracious invitation by Martha Nell Smith enabled me to attend a program that featured two long-time friends, actor Laurie McCants of the Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble, performing a scene from her one-woman show, Industrious Angels, and Stephanie Strickland, a New York poet who, along with collaborator Nick Montfort, offered background and performance for Sea and Spar Between, a poetry generator that works with language patterns for these two writers.
     The presentations of McCants, Strickland and Montfort, and other conference participants drew attention to the multiple meanings of Dickinson's language.  As with mathematics, so with poetry :  a new writer may use old words in new ways; a new reader may find in familiar terms new connections.
     The range of interpretations for the following Dickinson poem are so great that I have found it in two very different lists:  poems recommended for reading at a wedding -- and at a funeral. For me, it well suits a quiet afternoon to which I bring myself for quiet musing.

          26     by Emily Dickinson

          It’s all I have to bring today –
          This, and my heart beside –
          This, and my heart, and all the fields –
          And all the meadows wide –
          Be sure you count – should I forget
          Some one the sum could tell –
          This, and my heart, and all the Bees
          Which in the Clover dwell.

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