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Teresa Pelka

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The poetic mind of Emily Dickinson
By Teresa Pelka   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Sunday, November 30, 2014
Posted: Sunday, November 30, 2014

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It was not for illness or witness account to death that Emily Dickinson created her works.

Emily Dickinson’s poetry attracted me with the distance it shows towards the world, and with the courage in the use of words for her poetic imagery. Eternity and immortality are not banned, death is not feared. At the same time, the author does not build a shallow air of grandeur: Ms. Dickinson was a renowned recluse, throughout her life.

As Mabel Loomis Todd wrote, She was not an invalid, and she lived in seclusion from no love-disappointment. Her life was the normal blossoming of a nature introspective to a high degree, whose best thought could not exist in pretence.

Theories on an illness happen to be supported with pieces such as I Felt a Funeral in My Brain. Internalization of experience yet pervades Emily Dickinson’s writing, as a potent poetic device.

(The Bustle in the House)


Po domu to krzątanie

W poranek pośmiertny

Najsolenniejszym z przedsięwzięć

na ziemi jest, -

W sercu umiatanie

Miłość odłożyć w jeden gest

Nie będziemy potrzebować jej

Aż nadejdzie wieczność.

The bustle in a house

The morning after death

Is solemnest of industries

Enacted upon earth,-

The sweeping up the heart,

And putting love away

We shall not want to use again

Until eternity.


Her freedom of thought has been repeatedly misinterpreted for disregard in matters grammatical. Thomas Wentworth Higginson bowed to the establishment, saying, After all, when a thought takes one’s breath away, a lesson on grammar seems an impertinence.

I think linguistics is specialization enough. Grammars (should, at least) belong with intellect and we cannot rid of them to have poetry, or the other way round. Plainly, licentia poetica cannot be subdued, therefore, let us not impose grammatical canons on poetry. We can appreciate Thought Unbound and breathe deep, with language to have poetry as well as grammar.

I do not see anything ungrammatical about Emily Dickinson’s poetry; a slip does not denote absence of grammar, for everyone. I also do not take the verse for a personal or witness account. I think it has beautiful poetic devices and it is them to make poetry true . For Time and Eternity, and despite Emily Dickinson father's judging profession, I do not consider police or other files even likely sources of the observation.

A human being might witness death, that yet not probably often, living a solitary life. The witnessing will be irrelevant to language skill, unless traumatic and therefore detrimental: burial grounds do not tell how to hold a pen. A human being also might read a book and verbally express own thought, which, being itself a best use of written matter, can challenge another's thought more than a photographic report. And my attitude to critics cannot change: where is your (own!) better stuff?

I wanted to translate Emily Dickinson’s poetry long ago; translation is an inestimable exploration into human semantics. I translate her poetry to Polish.



Web Site: Poetry by Emily Dickinson

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Reviewed by Teresa Pelka 11/30/2014
Dear Ron,

There is no way to translate (whatever the text) into one language and back, to get the original (whatever the tongue).

I yet present the work line for line, facing pages.

I stay with the semantic field: obviously, you can't just translate the words to make them have rhythm and rhyme. Yet if one looks up synonymy, I believe the translation can tell the original.
Reviewed by Ronald Hull 11/30/2014
I have not read Emily Dickinson's poetry, nor am I inclined to. But I can see that you have written a very good article on your view of her from the distance of time. You are doing a great service by translating her works into Polish. I've found that translation, quite often, does not convey the same meaning that the original work, in the original language, did.


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Travelers in Grammar Part Two

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