Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Emily Dickinson

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In an effort to learn about and understand poetry, I am taking an on-line class about Emily Dickinson. She was a complex woman who led a relatively solitary life, so she is quite interesting to me; I like unusual people. So far the class is enjoyable and at this point the lessons are focused on her family history. Here is the first poem I read for the class:

I'm Nobody! Who are you?
Are you Nobody Too?
Then there's a pair of us!
Don't tell! They'd advertise you know!

How dreary to be Somebody!
How public like a Frog
To tell one's name the livelong June
To an admiring Bog!
I love how Ms. Dickinson identifies, not with the "in crowd", but those people on the fringes, like herself. She seems to feel that public life is too much work, mostly spent in attracting attention to oneself. While the solitary life of a "nobody" is peaceful and leads to connection with other "nobodies".

I can identify with this poem because I have never felt comfortable in the "in crowd"; there is too much pressure to perform and blend into the group. People who are secure in themselves tend to be more interesting because they are not obssessed with being "somebody"; their opinions and ideas tend to be unique. I like that in a person.

An interesting thing about Ms. Dickinson is that her name is Emily Elizabeth, just like my daughter who has spent most of her life being compared to Emily Elizabeth of Clifford the Big Red Dog fame. Now she can point to a more illustrious namesake!

For the class, I am reading the following books:

My Wars Are Laid Away In Books by Alfred Habegger

Favorite Poems of Emily Dickinson

Happy Reading!