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The Single Hound: Poems of a Lifetime    by Emily Dickinson order for
Single Hound
by Emily Dickinson
Order:  USA  Can
Hesperus, 2005 (1914)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

This collection of Dickinson's poetry was chosen and edited by her niece, Martha Dickinson Bianchi, who says admiringly of her aunt, 'She was not daily bread. She was stardust.'

The publisher tells us that only 10 of Dickinson's 1750 poems were published during her lifetime. Bianchi shares with readers memories of her aunt and tells us that the 'romantic friendship of my aunt Emily Dickinson and her 'Sister Sue' extended from girlhood until death.' Bianchi tells us that she was finally influenced to publish her aunt's work by a note that Emily wrote to Sue when both were in their twenties: 'I like your praise because I know it knows. If I could make you and Austin proud some day a long way off, 'twould give me taller feet.'

The title comes from a fragment of verse: 'Adventure most unto itself / The soul condemned to be; / Attended by a single hound - / Its own identity.' There's a preoccupation with death in many of the verses. And though I feel out of tune with some of them, I like those on nature very much, especially poems with sunrise and sunset as themes, and one that ends, 'Nature is what we know / But have no art to say, / So impotent our wisdom is / To her simplicity.' Or how about these lines on winter? 'Like brooms of steel the snow and wind / Had swept the winter street'. Brrr! That makes me shiver in anticipation.

If you're interested in exploring Emily Dickinson's poetry, then The Single Hound is a good place to start, the recollections of the poet's niece making an intriguing addition to the verses themselves.

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