This is the last week of my poetry class. When I began the class, I had a mix of attitudes. On the one hand, I view poetry as a pompous, stuffy professor. He has a lot to say, but is all dressed up for the part. Yet, there is something thrilling about stumbling upon that line that tickles your senses, draws you in, and invites you to unravel the mystery within the lines.
Our final project was to either create an anthology of poems either by author or by theme/style, or write our own poem. From the beginning of class I began compiling Frost poetry, his biographical information, etc. Aside from him being one of my favorite poets, he has this singular talent for using the imagery from everyday New England farm life to unravel the depth of our human nature.
But last week, I read a poem by Dickinson, “The Soul selects her own Society”. It was a thought provoking poem, from a poet who provoked a lot of negative thoughts in me. Her dashes and unorthodox capitalization, reminded me too much of that stuffy professor. As we studied her last week, I gained a new insight. Begrudging at first, but then the meaning of her poetry expanded as I began understanding her.
As I was taking a shower, (where all great ideas germinate) a different take on her poem unfolded in my head. So I sat down and wrote it out, then I rearranged, and tweaked it, interjected alliteration, purposefully changed the rhythm and meter…It was an eye opening experience. The objective of the project was to include the various poetry devices we’ve learned throughout the semester within our poem. But as I began doing it, my understanding grew of how powerful these devices are. Dickinson’s dashes became more than an ornate feather in her hat, but a nail driven precisely into the poem. It had purpose, it had meaning, and it added depth. The “doing it” versus the “discussing it” was potent.
How true is that of our own lives and how we interact with people? We sit back and we judge, we assume, we advise without really understanding. But once we actually get into the doing, when we get our hands into it, then we really begin to understand.
I will leave you with the poem, and a question. What have you bit into assuming it would taste one way, and were surprised to find out it tasted quite different?
Society selects her own Souls
Then callously closes the door
Plastic grins on granite faces
Mime “Welcome – all the more”
The Emperor implores – Communion
With heartfelt hate upon his throne
Manufactured masks look down
From icy windowpanes
Unmoving arms encircle us
Sing praises to He, Me, ME!
Unmasked – Aghast! – It’s revealed at last
They’re the ones not Chosen