The Single Hound: Poems of a Lifetime
Hesperus, 2005 (1914)
Reviewed by Hilary Williamson
his 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.
he 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.
he 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.
f 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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