Emily Dickinson: “My life closed twice before its close” and “There’s a certain slant of light.”
[Sound files from this session not yet edited for posting.]
Recorded at the Baltimore Free School, 1323 N. Calvert, from 2-3:30 PM on Saturday, April 23. Participants: Danny Schwartz (elec. guitar) Sandy Koll (vox), Gavin Whitt (vox), Katie Osborn (vox), Val Smith (vox), Patrice Hutton (vox), Ryan Edel (vox), Dara Weinberg (vox, dir.), Joe Martin (acoust. guitar, drums, mus. dir.).
Poems for April 23:
EDNA ST. VINCENT MILLAY
The railroad track is miles away,
And the day is loud with voices speaking,
Yet there isn’t a train goes by all day
But I hear its whistle shrieking.
All night there isn’t a train goes by,
Though the night is still for sleep and dreaming,
But I see its cinders red on the sky,
And hear its engine steaming.
My heart is warm with the friends I make,
And better friends I’ll not be knowing;
Yet there isn’t a train I wouldn’t take,
No matter where it’s going.
What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why (Sonnet XLIII)
What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain
Under my head till morning; but the rain
Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply,
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain
For unremembered lads that not again
Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.
Thus in winter stands the lonely tree,
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,
Yet knows its boughs more silent than before:
I cannot say what loves have come and gone,
I only know that summer sang in me
A little while, that in me sings no more.
My life closed twice before its close—
It yet remains to see
If Immortality unveil
A third event to me
So huge, so hopeless to conceive
As these that twice befell.
Parting is all we know of heaven,
And all we need of hell.
There’s a certain Slant of light,
Winter Afternoons –
That oppresses, like the Heft
Of Cathedral Tunes –
Heavenly Hurt, it gives us –
We can find no scar,
But internal difference,
Where the Meanings, are –
None may teach it – Any –
‘Tis the Seal Despair –
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the air –
When it comes, the Landscape listens –
Shadows – hold their breath –
When it goes, ’tis like the Distance
On the look of Death –