Remarks on Camille Paglia anthology
BREAK BLOW BURN submitted to Poetry
Magazine. Returned with note that Poetry staff had already reviewed BREAK
BREAK BLOW BURN
Camille Paglia’s earnest attempt to recover culture from the ravages of theory misses the mark.She is merely returning to the familiar territory of the New Criticism era. Her explication of Emily Dickinson’s Because I Could Not Stop for Death seems a stretch, even for an allegory. Emily was obsessed with death, but not kidnap and murder.
Ms Paglia expends a great deal of effort to return poetry to its former glory, when it was appreciated by the average person, rather than just literary insiders. It is also apparent she would like to end the destruction of our store of human knowledge by the fools who follow Derrida and Foucault. It is sad this brilliant woman, early on, could not have been headed in a more productive direction. Like the Poetry Foundation, she preaches to the choir. In contrast, I would like to present a take on Ms. Dickinson’s great work, as a layman who can barely grasp New Criticism, Post Modernism, Structuralism, Deconstruction, etc., etc., etc.
Because I Could Not Stop for
Because I could not stop for death -
He kindly stopped for me –
The Carriage held but just Ourselves
We slowly drove – He knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For His Civility –
We passed the school where children strove
At recess-in the Ring-
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain-
We passed the Setting Sun-
Or rather-He passed Us-
The Dews drew quivering and chill-
For only Gossamer, my Gown –
My Tippet Only Tulle
We passed before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the ground
The Roof was scarcely visible-
The Cornice in the Ground- Since then “tis centuries –and yet Feels shorter than the Day I first surmised the Horses’ Heads Were toward Eternity - Stanza 1 / -
Emily cannot comprehend death – but she dies.As she rides in a fine carriage, she thinks she’s immortal.
Stanza 2 / -
Her carriage is a hearse taking her for preparation to be buried. The stresses and pleasures of life have ended for her.
Stanza 3 / -
Morning with school children, the sun blazing on grain fields, and evening sun passing, complete a day. Stanza 4 / -
Dressed in her funeral finery, Gossamer and Tulle, she is not ready for cold nightfall and her chill tells her the sun has gone down.
Stanza 5 / -
Arriving at the grave, she sees it as an odd house. “A Swelling of the ground-“She is buried .
Stanza 6 / -
Finally, after eons, Ms Dickinson recognizes death has a single dimension –time-, and she will be dead forever.
Am curious about "destruction of our store of human knowledge". "She preaches to the choir" Is she aware of a planned audience- that is, is that her intention. Enjoyed the remarks. Cannot fully comprehend Paglia or Dickinson and will again study Rumer Comments.
Got a print out.