Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Poems by Emily's Younger Brother

Emily Dickinson, that is. Didn't know she had a younger brother who was also a poet? There's a good reason for that.*

Ansley Dickinson's style seems somewhat derivative, yet he has a completely different vision than his elder sister. Let me share just two pieces. I'm sure you'll spot the similarities very quickly.

Some Madness is okay to me
With my unwitting Eye—
Some Sense—I guess, is fine as well—
Unless you're short be three
Sense—which not a nickle makes
Me think—I've lost some Change—
And change, Things will—the more they do—
The more they stay the same

Clearly, the fluidity with which Ansley moves from idea to idea is almost dizzying, and the imagery juxtaposed to such sharp contrasts in word play reveals a truly intrepid poetic spirit.

Ansley also had a more earthy side, which he captures brilliantly in this little gem:

I tasted Liquor never brewed—
Distilled in some guy's Barn.
No quantity of Anodyne
Could soothe my Head forlorn!

Inebriated Fool—was I—
And out a half-month's Wage—
Reeling—through someone's Flowerpatch
In blinded, drunken Rage.

When there I fell—amidst the Blooms—
Disgorging all I'd drank!
The Tulips wilted from the Waft
Of Moonshine that I stank.

So now I sit—my Temples pound,
And Eyeballs fit to burst.
Next time, I'll choose a different Draft
To quaff—and quench my Thirst.

No doubt, the genius of this poet is obvious. Perhaps someday the academy will give this American treasure the recognition he deserves.

*Actually, it's because these come from a parody I wrote for my sophomore American Literature survey course.
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