May 12th 2016

There’s a new book out (or new to me) collecting and annotating Edna St. Vincent Millay’s lesser known poetry.  I think I’ll pick it up but, for now, I’ve only perused. The back pages reprint some newly discovered letters. In one of them she frets that there might be an editor, when she’s no longer alive and kicking, who will dare to change a single letter in one of her poems.
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Now that’s a wonderful thought. Why should she care? She’ll be dead and gone, and yet, like her, we do. But why? When I was a teenager, I idolized Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Shakespeare, Keats, Milton, Blake, Frost. Like Keats and Frost, my bid was, and has always been, to lodge one poem in the reader’s memory.
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But what does it matter? Another recently released book is a collection of Emily Dickinson’s poetry as she collected it. Contrary to the usual tale of a cloistered poet dying in a litter of poems, Dickinson’s collection reveals a woman carefully considering her legacy—the poems to keep, what order to put them in, how future readers will read them. She was binding her poems in distinct collections before she died.
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The wonderful trick of the human mind is in living. I don’t know how else to put it.
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mid-
·····May—petals sticking to the shovel’s
········mud
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188 May 12th 2016 | bottlecap

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