Wild Nights – Wild Nights!
Were I with thee
Wild Nights should be
Futile – the winds –
To a heart in port –
Done with the compass –
Done with the chart!
Rowing in Eden –
Ah, the sea!
Might I moor – Tonight –
Now what can I say about this poem. Well I could begin with a Kenneth Williams style "ooohh maatron"
Apart from the poetry I studied at school I have no formal education in poetry and therefore feel unqualified to say whether it has poetic merit. I love the poem because of the way it conveys both a sense of wild erotic excitement along with a sense of safety and security of being moored with her lover.
However, the first couple of lines I can imagine being recitied by Edmund Blackadder in a ruse to seduce some wealthy innocent damsel in Mrs Miggins pie shoppe ".... wild nights should be our lux-ur-eee"
Rereading posts by other members on this unique American poet, I thought I'd post a couple of my favorites of hers:
Because I could not stop for Death –
He kindly stopped for me –
The Carriage held but just Ourselves –
We slowly drove – He knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For His Civility –
We passed the School, where Children strove
At Recess – in the Ring –
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain –
We passed the Setting Sun –
Or rather – He passed us –
The Dews drew quivering and chill –
For only Gossamer, my Gown –
My Tippet – only Tulle –
We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground –
The Roof was scarcely visible –
The Cornice – in the Ground –
Since then – 'tis Centuries – and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses' Heads
Were toward Eternity –
Much Madness is divinest Sense —
To a discerning Eye —
Much Sense — the starkest Madness —
‘Tis the Majority
In this, as All, prevail —
Assent — and you are sane —
Demur — you’re straightway dangerous —
And handled with a Chain —
As Claire has mentioned elsewhere, I would agree that I have a gut reaction to Dickinson and would be hard pressed to explain what it is that I like so much about her. She was prolific enough in her self-imposed isolation that there are many of her poems which reach out and grab me right away, while others leave me saying "huh?" - but then I have to return to them again and again, getting something new out of them every time. The beauty of her poetry is that her themes reach out to different readers in different ways - which is what a good poet should be about, there being no One True Way. Her brevity, quirky punctuation and at times almost childish singsong tone are delightfully deceptive when you consider the rich food for thought stored at the heart of each poem...meant to be chewed carefully.
The first has long been a favorite of mine, though I can't tell you why. I have just enough of a sense of the macabre to get a delicious shiver every time I read it...that beautifully creepy image of going driving with gentlemanly Death, leaving mundane cares and concerns behind.
The second I can relate to as an artist, the feeling of being at odds with the conventional "wisdom" of whatever society you happen to be a part of (or not). For some reason it brings up strong images of the bitter mid-19th century contest regarding slavery (the Dickinsons being a strong New England abolitionist family)...though in a wider sense it could relate to being a singular, visionary female in a society where the roles of women were severely proscribed.
Kids can relate to some of her work. I did, having long ago read "The Morns are meeker," "There is no frigate like a Book" and "I'm Nobody" in a collection of poetry for young readers. But as I mature, I'm more and more intrigued. It'd be possible to spend one's entire life studying Dickinson. Some have. I wish I had the time.