! ! Emily Dickinson Takes A Poetry Course Poem by Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd

Marton, Lancashire

! ! Emily Dickinson Takes A Poetry Course

Rating: 5.0


Dear Ms Dickinson: I’ve just received
your amusing little trifle,
'Faith is a fine invention'
as your first week's homework on this course..

and hope that as your designated docent
(you may of course request a change..)
we may establish a relationship
that’s full of ‘ mellow fruitfulness’ – as
John Keats (1795-1821) would put it..

First, may I say that it’s more interesting
for the reader, not to use the first line
of your poem –especially one so short –
as the title…something more intriguing perhaps?
such as – in this case, ‘Natural Science’?

I have a feeling that you have within you
much more to say on this theme
(already well covered by the poets, did you know?)
than this whimsical – if pertinent – short verse…

Thus it’s best for the poet as beginner
not to attempt the succinct ‘apercu’
(I hope you understand a little French?)
of such as our more resonant senior 'gentlemen'..…

I do question the use of ‘invention’
in the first line; however,
I think I detect a hint of emulating
William Blake’s poetic stance here?

Now, in these days of sexual equality
it would be best, I think,
not to use ‘Gentlemen’… are there not
lady biologists and preachers? ...
and we don’t now use those capital letters
so beloved of our German poets…

Your setting-off of science against religion
is alas, so easily overdone; especially
in the context of so short a verse.. and
‘Microscopes are prudent’ is, I have to say,
not the most evocative of phrases; even though
poetic compaction is a worthy aim…

Nor is it clear what ‘Emergency’ it is, to which
you might refer – microscopes are, I feel,
an image of less urgent study?

However, Miss Dickinson, I suspect
that you have a confident personal voice
which we shall hope to bring out?

I shall not discuss the other verse
which you include: its punctuation
of unseemly dashes reads so breathless
that one may hardly bestow the designation
‘poesy’ upon it..

However I look forward to your next week’s
homework, Miss Dickinson – may I suggest
something a little longer for your next
poetic venture? There are many themes
out there, even for the
single lady? Yrs, E. Doolittle BA (Hons)

COMMENTS OF THE POEM
Sonny Rainshine 15 December 2008

Composed with finesse and skill. Sounds like a perfect description of how many critics must have first reacted to Ms. Dickinson's eccentric punctuation and succint, tightly-woven images. She never fails to startle me. Bravo.

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Michael Shepherd 15 December 2008

I warned her, Mikey baby - I warned her...

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Michael Pruchnicki 15 December 2008

The lad is prolific in his attack on Emily Dickinson, isn't he? At times he condescends and smugly advises his better in letters to consider his well-wrought advice on how to write longer and drearier verse punctuated by question marks! If he had the ability of Eliza with her BA with honors, he might be on the same plane as her creator, though I doubt it very much.

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Michael Shepherd

Marton, Lancashire
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