Sunday, October 31, 2010

I'm nobody! Who are you? by Emily Dickinson

I'm Nobody! Who are you?
Are you Nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us -don't tell!
They'd banish us, you know.

How dreary to be Somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!

1 comment:

  1. Early in 1892 the brilliant invalid Alice James delighted in “I'm Nobody! Who are you? No tome of philosophy, she said, could match Nobody's antithesis. The sureness of this farce from the 'highest point of view of the aspiring soul' was beyond the grasp of Somebodies, as Alice James saw , and she feared only for Dickinson's not being the flawless miracle a James was qualified to appreciate. She saw too a poet who must be rescued from editorial intervention.

    'Her being sicklied o'er* with (her editor) T.W. Higginson makes one quake lest there be a latent flaw which escapes one's vision.'

    Though Alice James was then close to death, no one could relish more the bafflement of Dickinson's critics. In England, the reviews followed the London publication in late 1891.

    'It is reassuring to hear the English pronouncement that Emily Dickinson is fifth rate,' Alice James said. 'They have such a capacity for missing quality; the robust evades them equally with the subtle. The London Daily News, groping condescendingly in the right direction thought Dickinson 'a kind of unfinished, rudimentary Bronte.'

    The American papers, on the other hand, and particularly the Boston ones, sided with the common reader in their praise. Higginson told Mabel Todd ( who transcribed the first published collection of Emily's poems): ' You are the only person who can feel as I do about this extraordinary thing we have done in revealing this rare genius. I feel as if we had climbed to a cloud, pulled it away, and revealed a new star behind it.'

    *Hamlet is 'Sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought.'

    Lives Loaded Like Guns; Emily Dickinson and Her Family Feuds by Lyndall Gordon