Saturday, March 18, 2017

A Reduceless Mine

To own the Art within the Soul
The Soul to entertain
With Silence as a Company
And Festival maintain

Is an unfurnished Circumstance
Possession is to One
As an Estate perpetual
Or a reduceless Mine.

It is tempting to look at Emily Dickinson's poems and assume that, for her, every moment was fraught with the potential for a poem. She seemed to live poetry, live on some higher plain of existence than most of us can manage. Of course, this can't be true. She had ordinary moments, no doubt. One cannot be always hearing that roar on the other side of silence (to paraphrase George Eliot, because I'm too lazy to get up and find my copy of Middlemarch and look up the exact quote).

(Brief tangent: Emily Dickinson read Middlemarch and loved George Eliot; one wonders if she lingered over that quote, put the novel down for a moment and allowed herself to go behind the silence...)

She did spend her adult life exploring how art is a bridge between experience and meaning. The artist takes what she or he perceives and reorganizes it, emphasizing what needs to be emphasized and discarding what isn't (at that moment) needed. The result is a creation in which possibility and meaning are represented and presented.  A poem to include in a letter to a friend. Or a poem to keep to herself, written in the middle of the night, a "reduceless Mine" as she reorganized her world according to her own vision.

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