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The Pierless Bridge: Emily Dickinson's Poems of Faith and Doubt
 

The Pierless Bridge: Emily Dickinson's Poems of Faith and Doubt

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A presentation in the First Fridays series at The Cedars, McPherson, Kansas.

A presentation in the First Fridays series at The Cedars, McPherson, Kansas.

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    The Pierless Bridge: Emily Dickinson's Poems of Faith and Doubt The Pierless Bridge: Emily Dickinson's Poems of Faith and Doubt Presentation Transcript

    • The Pierless BridgeEmily Dickinson’s Poems of Faith and DoubtFirst Fridays Ÿ 3 May 2013Bruce Clary, McPherson College, McPherson, Kansas
    • Hello. I am Bruce Clary.Associate Professor of EnglishMcPherson College• Among other courses, I teachAmerican Literature• Dickinson was the subject ofmy doctoral dissertation.
    • And thisis EmilyDickinson.
    • And thisis EmilyDickinson.
    • And thisis EmilyDickinson.
    • Today’s Objectives• Get reacquainted with Dickinson• Explore some poems• Experience the power of herlanguage
    • Quiz time!What do you already knowabout Emily Dickinson?
    • 1. Get out your phones.Silence them.
    • 1. Get out your phones.Silence them.2. Create a new textmessage.
    • 1. Get out your phones.Silence them.2. Create a new textmessage.3. Do not hit Send untilyou are told.
    • 1. Get out your phones.Silence them.2. Create a new textmessage.3. Do not hit Send untilyou are told.4. Enter 666509 into thebody of your message.
    • 1859: Darwin
    • The Fascicles
    • 1st CongregationalChurch of AmherstBuilt in 1868, Dickinsonsneaked out of her houseat night to view the newchurch. This was possiblythe last time she left thegrounds of the familyhome until her death in1885.
    • How Dickinson wrote.How Dickinson Wrote
    • How Dickinson wrote.How Dickinson Wrote• Traditional forms –• No titles• Variants – sometimes lots ofthem
    • How Dickinson wrote.• Unconventional conventions• Extreme compression• Garbled grammar• Scrambled syntax
    • How Dickinson wrote.Why ED wrote this way• She wrote for herself – maybe• Reader becomes co-creator• Make language new
    • “On subjects of which we know nothing, orshould I say Beings, we both believe, anddisbelieve a hundred times an Hour, which keepsBelieving nimble.”—1882 letter to Otis Phillips Lord
    • Those – dying then,Knew where they went –They went to God’s Right Hand –That Hand is amputated nowAnd God cannot be found –The abdication of BeliefMakes the Behavior small –Better an ignis fatuusThan no illume at all –
    • Faith – is the Pierless BridgeSupporting what We seeUnto the Scene that We do not –Too slender for the eyeIt bears the Soul as boldAs it were rocked in SteelWith arms of steel at either side –It joins – behind the VailTo what, could We presumeThe Bridge would cease to beTo our far, vacillating FeetA first Necessity.
    • Some keep the Sabbath going to Church –I keep it, staying at Home –With Bobolink for a Chorister –And an Orchard, for a Dome –Some keep the Sabbath in Surplice –I just wear my Wings –And instead of tolling the Bell, for Church,Our little Sexton – sings.God preaches, a noted Clergyman –And the sermon is never long,So instead of getting to Heaven, at last –Im going, all along.
    • This World is not Conclusion.A Species stands beyond –Invisible, as Music –But positive, as Sound –It beckons, and it baffles –Philosophy – dont know –And through a Riddle, at the last –Sagacity, must go –To guess it, puzzles scholars –To gain it, Men have borneContempt of GenerationsAnd Crucifixion, shown –
    • Faith slips – and laughs, and rallies –Blushes, if any see –Plucks at a twig of Evidence –And asks a Vane, the way –Much Gesture, from the Pulpit –Strong Hallelujahs roll –Narcotics cannot still the ToothThat nibbles at the soul –
    • Of God we ask one favor,That we may be forgiven –For what, he is presumed to know –The Crime, from us, is hidden –Immured the whole of LifeWithin a magic PrisonWe reprimand the HappinessThat too competes with Heaven.
    • I know that He exists.Somewhere – in Silence –He has hid his rare lifeFrom our gross eyes.Tis an instants play.Tis a fond Ambush –Just to make BlissEarn her own surprise!
    • But – should the playProve piercing earnest –Should the glee – glazeIn Deaths – stiff – stare –Would not the funLook too expensive!Would not the jest –Have crawled too far
    • “Faith” is a fine inventionWhen gentlemen can see –But Microscopes are prudentIn an Emergency.
    • The Brain – is wider than the Sky –For – put them side by side –The one the other will containWith ease – and You – besideThe Brain is deeper than the sea –For – hold them – Blue to Blue –The one the other will absorb –As Sponges – Buckets – do –The Brain is just the weight of God –For – Heft them – Pound for Pound –And they will differ – if they do –As Syllable from Sound –
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