Thursday, November 15, 2007

There were some discussions going on last night at North Park University about the work of Whitman and Dickinson and whether their work represents two antithetical poles in American literature. I was glad to see that twentysomethings in poetry classes still talk about such things. I've tended to side with Dickinson, if such a competition exists (it doesn't). She was best able to write the condensed type of poetry I tend to gravitate toward. Whitman could have easily been a novelist. Leaves of Grass encapsulates America in its rhapsodic long lines, but Dickinson mapped some inner places that make her work more mysterious and interesting.


FOR each ecstatic instant
We must an anguish pay
In keen and quivering ratio
To the ecstasy.

For each beloved hour
Sharp pittances of years,
Bitter contested farthings
And coffers heaped with tears.

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