Tag Archives: emily dickinson

February Author Newsletter

I have just published a February author newsletter, which can be viewed here.

The newsletter contains a link to my interview on Vancouver Coop Radio’s The World Poetry Reading Series, which took place on 17th December 2020. In addition, I have included two audio book recommendations, and news of my forthcoming poetry pamphlet.

I Started Early – Took My Dog, by Emily Dickinson

I have recently subscribed to the Poetry Foundation’s Audio Poem of the Day. The poem for Monday 6 July is Emily Dickinson’s “I Started Early – Took My Dog”, https://www.poetryfoundation.org/podcasts/75386/i-started-early-took-my-dog-656.

To me, Dickinson’s poem is full of erotic imagery:

“But no Man moved Me – till the Tide
Went past my simple Shoe –
And past my Apron – and my Belt
And past my Boddice – too –

And made as He would eat me up –
As wholly as a Dew
Opon a Dandelion’s Sleeve –
And then – I started – too –

And He – He followed – close behind –
I felt His Silver Heel
Opon my Ancle – Then My Shoes
Would overflow with Pearl –

Until We met the Solid Town –
No One He seemed to know –
And bowing – with a Mighty look –
At me – The Sea withdrew –”.

The above could be read as a description of the sexual act. In particular the poem’s ending, “the sea withdrew” does, I think need no further comment from me.

Dickinson was a deeply religious lady. Yet religion and the erotic are not mutually exclusive. But perhaps my interpretation is wrong, and the poem is what it says it is, a description of a woman’s trip (real or imagined) to the sea, and how the tide nearly overwhelmed her.

I would, as always be interested in the views of my readers.

10 of the Most Accessible Poets in English Literature

On 30 May, the blog Interesting Literature published a post entitled “10 of the most accessible poets in English Literature”, https://wp.me/p2WHCx-5Bm.

Amongst the poets mentioned are some of my own favourites, including Philip Larkin, the American poet Emily Dickinson, and Thomas Hardy.

Below are links to a selection of my favourite poems by Larkin, Dickinson and Hardy.

“Aubade” by Philip Larkin. Read by the poet himself, Aubade is a powerful examination of the poet’s fear of death, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IDr_SRhJs80

“Because I Could Not Stop for Death” by Emily Dickinson. Unlike Larkin in “Aubade” Dickinson does not see death as a threat which does, I think stem from her deep religious faith, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Am5O8_iCpmg

“The Darkling Thrush” by Thomas Hardy. Hardy’s bleak mood is contrasted with that of the joyful singing of an “aged thrush”, which causes the poet to ponder on how the bird can see “some blessed hope whereof he knew and I was unaware”, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QGY3DZH85O8

Should poetry be accessible? Certainly any poet who deliberately writes to be inaccessible would be a very strange creature indeed. However what is accessible to one is not accessible to another as, to some extent accessibility is in the eye of the beholder.

Poets also need to be cognisant of the danger of patronising (talking down to) their readers. Whilst working on my forthcoming poetry collection, I considered the need for footnotes. This question arose as in 4 instances I reference the work of long dead poets. My initial view was that anyone with access to Google (please note that other search engines are available)! could easily ascertain details of the poem/poet mentioned, meaning that footnotes where unnecessary. However, I came to the conclusion that adding a few footnotes was preferable to having my readers cursing me for assuming that they had knowledge not possessed by them. Consequently several footnotes appear at the end of my poems.

As to whether my work is accessible? only my readers can answer that question. And different readers will, I believe answer it differently.

(You can find my “Selected Poems” here, https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07WW8WXPP/. My forthcoming collection will, I hope be available in late June/early July).

The Weather Was Chill

The weather was chill,
And the park still.
Few birds I heard
On this spring day.
Dickinson spoke, of feathered hope.
I would like to say
That Emily’s feathered thing
Will, through it’s song, bring
To birth a much brighter day.
But things don’t work that way.

My review of Go Emily, an Alexa skill enabling the user of an Amazon Echo to listen to the poetry of Emily Dickinson

On 1 November, I reviewed The Bell of Amherst, an Alexa skill which enables the user of an Amazon Echo to listen to the poetry of Emily Dickinson, https://kmorrispoet.com/2019/11/01/the-bell-of-amherst-how-best-to-enjoy-the-poetry-of-emily-dickinson/. As you will see from that review, I was disappointed with The Bell. Consequently I enabled Go Emily which, as with The Bell, allows users of the Echo to listen to Dickinson’s work, https://www.amazon.com/Appbly-com-Go-Emily/dp/B01LX3SF9I.

There is, so far as I can ascertain from having used both Go Emily and The Bell of Amherst, no difference between the 2 skills, Indeed, if I where a smoker (which I am not), I would say that one could not put a cigarette paper between them! As with The Bell, Go Emily uses Alexa’s voice to recite Dickinson’s poetry. In addition, both skills close immediately after a single poem has been read, there being no facility for the user to request that a further poem is recited.

Both Go Emily and The Bell of Amherst could be improved by allowing the user to request that a further poem be read, or to ask that a named poem of Dickinson’s be recited.

As with The Bell of Amherst, I am not a huge fan of the Go Emily skill, and, in my view, anyone wishing to enjoy the poetry of Emily Dickinson would be better served by reading one of the collections out there.


The Bell of Amherst – how best to enjoy the poetry of Emily Dickinson

I have long been an admirer of Emily Dickinson’s work, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emily_Dickinson. My first recollection of having encountered her poetry was as a child whilst listening to Poetry Please! on BBC Radio 4. I remember being fascinated by a rendering of Dickinson’s fine poem “As I could not stop for death he kindly stopped for me”, https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/47652/because-i-could-not-stop-for-death-479.

I frequently return to Emily’s work, and the bookcase in my bedroom contains 2 substancial braille volumes of her poetry. Given the pleasure I derive from her poetry, I was pleased to find that Amazon offers a free Alexa skill enabling owners of the Amazon Echo to listen to the poetry of Emily Dickinson, https://www.amazon.co.uk/Michael-Norton-The-Belle-Amherst/dp/B06XNM6GR9, and being an Echo owner I enabled The Bell of Amherst yesterday evening.

On opening The Bell of Amherst, the Echo user is asked whether they would like “The Bell” to read a poem. On answering “yes, a poem is voiced by Alexa and the app closes. If you wish to hear another poem its necessary to open The Bell again and request that Alexa read another Dickinson poem.

Whilst The Bell of Amherst provides those with access to an Amazon Echo with the opportunity to listen to the poetry of Emily Dickinson, I find the robotic voice of Alexa distracting and would prefer that the poems are read by actors of the human kind, as is the case with the My Poems Alexa skill, which I reviewed on 31 October, https://kmorrispoet.com/2019/10/31/my-review-of-my-poems-an-alexa-skill-enabling-the-amazon-echo-user-to-listen-to-poetry/.

The fact that one has to re-open The Bell each time one wishes to hear a poem is also irritating. Again I would prefer that the Bell followed the same practice as My Poems whereby the user is given the opportunity to hear another poem, rather than the app shutting down on him/her once a single poem has been read.

In brief, I wouldn’t recommend The Bell of Amherst as a means of enjoying the verse of Emily Dickinson. I would suggest obtaining one of the many printed collections of her poetry as an alternative to The Bell of Amherst.

As an aside, I was delighted when, in response to a recent review of my Selected Poems, a reader of that review commented as follows:
“His poem about the grim reaper reminds me of Emily Dickinson’s “because I could not stop for death He kindly stopped for me.” Thanks for letting his read some of his poems.”
The poem to which the commenter refers is my poem entitled “Time”. You can find the review of The Selected Poems of K Morris (together with the above quoted comment) here, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/2019/10/20/bookreview-poetry-the-selected-poems-of-k-morris/.


“I Noticed People Disappeared”, by Emily Dickinson

I noticed people disappeared,
When but a little child–
Supposed they visited remote,
Or settled regions wild.

Now know I they both visited
And settled regions wild,
But did because they died–a fact
Withheld the little child!

28 Of Poetry’s Most Powerful Lines Ever Written

Thank you to my friend for drawing this article to my attention, “28 Of Poetry’s Most Powerful Lines Ever Written”, http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/news/world-poetry-day-28-of-poetrys-most-powerful-lines-ever-written-a6944301.html. There are many of my favourites here, including Emily Dickinson’s”As I Could Not Stop For Death” and W. B Yeats’s “The Second Coming”.

“There Is No Frigate Like A Book” By Emily Dickinson

A poem by the 19th century American poet, Emily Dickinson.

There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away,
Nor any coursers like a page
Of prancing poetry.
This traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of toll;
How frugal is the chariot
That bears a human soul!

Look Back On Time With Kindly Eyes By Emily Dickinson

I came across the below poem while browsing through a recently acquired collection of the poems of Emily Dickinson.

Look back on time with kindly eyes,
He doubtless did his best;
How softly sinks his trembling sun
In human nature’s west!