all the tiny ribs of language…

September 23, 2016


It’s as if she (Emily Dickinson) had a storm inside her head, an illumination, like a wizard or a mathematical genius. Dickinson was reinventing the language of poetry, not by examining poets of the past, but by cannibalizing the words in her Lexicon. Jay Leyda was the only one who understood this. In his introduction to The Years and Hours of Emily Dickinson(1960), he talked about the “omitted centre” in her letters and poems – all the tiny ribs of language that were left out. But Leyda was much more optimistic than I am about where those ribs came from. She told riddles: “the deliberate skirting of the obvious – this was the means she used to increase the privacy of her communication; it has also increased our problems in piercing that privacy.

Jerome Charyn
A Loaded Gun: Emily Dickinson for the 21st Century

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