Life

XII. I Asked No Other Thing

XII.

I asked no other thing,
No other was denied.
I offered Being for it;
The mighty merchant smiled.

Brazil nuts? He twirled a button,
Without a glance my way:
“But, madam, is dere nuttin’ else
I can shell you to-day?”

 

The 1924 version; the authentic version, using the remarkably different “sneered.” A particularly funny and enigmatic poem, even cited in a 1913 critique of Dickinson in The Atlantic (“a union of playfulness and of terrible comment upon the thwarted aspirations of a suffering soul”).

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Emily Dickinson: The Movie!

In case you haven’t heard, last Friday marked the opening of “A Quiet Passion,” an Emily Dickinson biopic written and directed by Terence Davies and starring Cynthia Nixon. I encourage you to go see it! And then tell me about it.

Already, the movie has spawned Dickinson parody poetry in The New Yorker, and been hailed as the worst-named period movie ever, I’m guessing (“Honey, let’s go see ‘A Quiet Passion.’ ” “I’m sorry, dear, I have to pull out my toenails and replace them with actual nails.”). (Actually, the reviews are quite good.)

I do have one request: If anyone ever makes a movie about Emily Dickinson’s Trashcan, please call it “A Crinkled Paper.” I think it would do very well.