XII. I Asked No Other Thing


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”).


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.

The Single Hound

XI. Exhilaration Is the Breeze


Exhilaration is the Breeze
That lifts us from the ground
And leaves us in another place
That turns out to be an Indian burial mound;
Returns us not, but after time
We soberly descend,
A little newer for the term
We played with bones we found.


The original version. This has also been turned into a choral piece that even middle-schoolers can sing.