Definition

One must make a distinction however: when dragged into prominence by half poets, the result is not poetry, nor till the autocrats among us can be “literalists of the imagination”—above insolence and triviality and can present for inspection, imaginary gardens with real toads in them, shall we have it.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A Toad's Favo(u)rite Poem ~ Susie


This is my week to share a favorite poem which wasn’t an easy task. I have so many. As I have stated numerous times the first poet I fell in love with was Edgar Allen Poe. His dark works spoke to the darkness in me and helped my find my voice to share the pain I had been hiding from abuse. I often read his work when I need inspiration.


Today I have chosen to step away from Poe’s influence and speak of Emily Dickinson. She was introverted and reclusive and that resonated with me when I was young. Many who know me or have known me through the years would never describe me that way, but the “me” I shared with the world was very different from the “me” I held inside.  I was literally hiding in plain sight. I retreated in laughter to avoid having anyone discover the turmoil behind the grinning imp I portrayed. 

Emily Norcross Dickinson, 1840 by O.A. Bullard

As a young child reading helped me escape the trauma I kept hidden. When I was lost in a book, the world was a much kinder and brighter place. Through words I found wings to fly beyond my circumstances as Emily’s poem so beautifully relates. 



Part One: Life


XXI

He ate and drank the precious words,      
his spirit grew robust;     
He knew no more that he was poor,         
nor that his frame was dust.        
He danced along the dingy days,        
and this bequest of wings             
was but a book. What liberty       
a loosened spirit brings!  


32 comments:

Kay L. Davies said...

Fabulous choice, Susie. I loved Emily Dickinson, too, and I'm so glad she was there to help you. I "ate and drank precious words" as much as I could when I was young.
K

Susie Clevenger said...

Thank you Kay. Emily remains one of my favorites.

illumine essence said...

What a beautiful post, Susie. Thank you for sharing so honestly about your pain. Much of what you said sounds familiar. It wouldn't have been easy at all to share these feelings if you didn't find yourself completely at home with your companions here. Trust and acceptance---the brush of their hands, such as this, is the truest sense of love.

~henna

Fireblossom said...

Well, you know I love your choice of author! What you may not know is that, up until as recently as 1950, her poems were still appearing in edited form, with her characteristic dashes and caps removed. Check this out:

He ate and drank the precious Words --
His Spirit grew robust --
He knew no more that he was poor,
Nor that his frame was Dust --

He danced along the dingy Days
And this Bequest of Wings
Was but a Book -- What Liberty
A loosened spirit brings --

Lolamouse said...

Great choice! I think many of us escaped into books (and poetry!) to help us cope. My daughter just finished a presentation on Emily Dickinson-another generation to appreciate her!

Susan said...

I, too, am lapping up your choice. ...But a Book" wonderful.

Dave King said...

You certainly could not have chosen anyone finer than Emily Dickenson. Great, great poet.

Hannah said...

Love Emily! Excellent post, Susie, thank you!

Kerry O'Connor said...

Emily Dickinson is one of those poets who stands out from her age, and springs ahead to show the way poets will be writing in the future. She loosened ties of formal writing - hence being over-edited to a more acceptable form for her day. I love her for her gentle spirit, her philosophy and her innovation. Thank you for sharing her words with us, Susie and for telling us why she means so much to you personally.

Margaret said...

Per Fireblossom above AND Emily Dickinson -- dashes are OK! Woohoo!

I too got "lost" in books when a youth -- not due to any abuse or escapism, just pure indulgence and love. Either way, I must have needed it. I wonder what youth do today as so few read (TV is NOT the same thing)

Bless you for sharing your pain, your struggle. I'm going to read Emily Dickinson for the next few days.

Marian said...

Susie, i wish you would come visit me... i've talked about this here before, but right now at my office i'm literally a short stroll away from the Dickinson homestead from which Emily wrote, looking out her windows. come visit me and her!

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Susie, your words spoke straight to my heart. I, too, hid pain behind the "grinning imp" persona. I too found books an escape and also, a way to try to understand the world and human nature. Love your choice of poem, and this wonderful post - all of it brings connection, and validation. Of the journey, and of sisterhood.

Mama Zen said...

I love this choice!

Kim Nelson said...

What a great share, Suzie. I love the last two lines of this poem. Pure, wise guidance.

Helen said...

I wasn't familiar with this bit of Dickinson poetry ... oh my, how these few lines filled up every inch of me! Thank you so much for sharing this .. and for sharing yourself.

Susie Clevenger said...

@henna, thank you. I am so thankful for my fellow toads. They have blessed my heart.

Susie Clevenger said...

@Fireblossom, thank you for sharing. I wasn't aware of it. Emily has been such a gift to me.

Susie Clevenger said...

@Lolamouse, how exciting to see another generation appreciating Emily!

Susie Clevenger said...

@Susan, thanks. :)
@Dave, thank you
@Hannah, thank you. There was so much more I could have written, but something in me said it was enough.
@Kerry, thank you. I am not sure I shared the poem here, but I wrote one a while back titled, Dear Emily.

Susie Clevenger said...

@Margaret, thank you. I too fear for youth because so many don't read any more and are in the abbreviated world of texting.
@Marian, I just may take you up on it some time next year! How I would love to see where Emily wrote her poetry and to visit you!

Susie Clevenger said...

@Sherry, thank you. There is much that unites those of us who write.
@Mama Zen, Thanks!
@Kim, thank you. There were so many I could have chosen, but this one effected me so much because it seemed she was speaking of me.
@Helen, thank you. So glad I could present new poetry to you. The beauty of life, there is always something to bring us new wonder.

hedgewitch said...

Susie, every word rings true, and I so understand--books(and school) were my safe places, also, and the nurturing that allowed me to grow and survive. I, too, was first drawn to Poe, darkness to darkness, but in later life, the light comes through, and Emily is a shining example. Lovely share--thank you very much.

Susie Clevenger said...

@hedgewitch, thank you. So thankful we found light to shine in our darkness.

Grace said...

What a lovely selection Susie ~ Thank you for sharing her work with us ~ Her words shine strong and clear above other writers ~

Susie Clevenger said...

@Grace, Emily is certainly a light among so many poets to choose from. Thank you

Mary said...

Susie, I am a little bit late with my comment here. I really liked the poem you shared by Emily Dickinson. THIS is one I had not been familiar with, but it really resonates with me.

Susie Clevenger said...

@Mary, thank you. I am always finding new tidbits of Emily I didn't know or hadn't read.

Vuong Pham said...

Thanks for sharing this story! I can relate to what you were saying about how you were introverted and recluse, and also how sometimes you were lost in books to escape into a different reality.

Susie Clevenger said...

@Vuong, thank you for stopping by and commenting

Ella said...

Wonderful Susie! Thank you for sharing your voice and hers~ ((hugs))

Susie Clevenger said...

@Ella, It was my pleasure to share Emily's work and what it meant/means to me.

aprille said...

Only just noticed this.
So good to be introduced to her by you. Thank you Susie.
So many poets I have never even read a morsel from. It helps to have them introduced to one by people you know. Such a good idea, this favourite poems series