Today is a very special day for poetry lovers. For it was on this date in 1830 that Emily Dickinson was born.
Now, I, myself, am not a big poetry fan. There are exceptions of course, like Edgar Allan Poe’s work and the sonnets of William Shakespeare, but overall I am not a poetry guy. I much prefer prose. However, Emily Dickinson falls squarely into the realm of poetry I enjoy.
The obvious question is: Why Emily Dickinson? Her style is completely outside the norm for the poetry that I enjoy. Hers is of a more classical style which tends to get a bit flowery for my taste. The reason can be summed up quite simply.
I’m sure some of you are now quite confused, though I suspect there are some out there who know exactly what I mean. Those scratching their heads are probably trying to come up with a connection between a Massachusetts born poet and a classic folk song from Texas.
The connection is quite simple. Emily Dickinson’s poetry, almost without fail, can be sung to the tune of “The Yellow Rose of Texas.” I say “almost” because I have not checked every poem she has written, but I have checked a large portion and it never fails. The poetry falls easily into the song without any real need to force it.
Give it a try with this excerpt:
Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
We slowly drove, he knew no haste,
And I had put away
My labor, and my leisure too,
For his civility.
A friend of mine introduced me to this little quirk in high school. Back then it was the source of much laughter, but today it is simply another piece of useless trivia bouncing around in my head.
It did make Dickinson much easier to swallow, though.
(P.S. The trick of meter in her poetry that makes this possible also works for the theme for “Gilligan’s Island”)