A summary of a classic Dickinson poem
‘My life closed twice before its close’ is one of Emily Dickinson’s finest short poems. In just two quatrains, Dickinson ponders immortality and the concept of an afterlife by posing a first line which doubles up as a riddle. How can one’s life close twice before it … closes? What does she mean? The poem is worth analysing more closely because of this puzzling enigma.
My life closed twice before its close –
It yet remains to see
If Immortality unveil
A third event to me
So huge, so hopeless to conceive
As these that twice befell.
Parting is all we know of heaven,
And all we need of hell. Read the rest of this entry
The best poems by Wallace Stevens
The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry when it was published in 1955. Stevens’s poetry continues to be popular, but where should the relative novice, the reader yet to discover the joys of this great twentieth-century modernist poet, begin? This post is designed as an introduction to ten of Wallace Stevens’s greatest poems.
‘The Emperor of Ice-Cream’. ‘The Emperor of Ice-Cream’ may well qualify for the accolade of ‘most baffling poem of the entire twentieth century’. Who, or what, is the Emperor of Ice-Cream? Click on the poem’s title above to read the poem, and – if you’re curious to learn more about the identity of this mysterious emperor, you can read our analysis below the poem.
‘The Snow Man’. ‘The Snow Man’ is about a rejection of the Romantic impulse to project your own feelings onto the natural world around you, and so ties in with Stevens’s rejection of the Keatsian aesthetic (Stevens was greatly influenced by the poetry of John Keats early in his career). It’s difficult not to fall for the pathetic fallacy, we might say, but that is what we should strive to do: to stop viewing winter as a time of loss, and stop hearing notes of misery in the sound of the wind. Read the rest of this entry
The best poems by Robert Frost
Any list of the top ten best poems by such a major poet as Robert Frost (1874-1963) is bound to inspire disagreement or, at least, discussion; but we thought we’d throw our literary cap in the ring and offer our own selection of Robert Frost’s greatest poems, along with a little bit about each poem. Do you agree with our recommendations? What should/shouldn’t be on this list, in your view?
‘Mending Wall’. One of Frost’s most famous poems, ‘Mending Wall’ is about the human race’s primitive urge to ‘mark its territory’ and our fondness for setting clear boundaries for our houses and gardens. Whilst Frost believes that such markers are a throwback to an earlier stage in mankind’s development, his neighbour believes that ‘Good fences make good neighbours.’
‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’. One of Frost’s best-loved poems if not the best-loved, ‘Stopping by Woods’ was inspired by a real event in Frost’s life: stopping by the woods on his way home, the poet despaired that he was poor and didn’t have enough money to provide for his family, but rather than give up he decided to soldier on and ‘choose life’ rather than the tempting escape offered by the woods. Read the rest of this entry