Sunday, June 9, 2013

172 Quiz Answer

Here’s the answer to this week’s quiz.
 
In 1862 there was a 31-year-old woman who lived in Amherst, Massachusetts and who wrote poetry. 

Emily Dickinson wrote a great many poems, very few of which were published in her lifetime and none of which were published as she wrote them.

The reason?  Her poetry was too, well, different – strange and at times almost chaotic. 

Truth is, she knew the rules of poetry, she just didn’t care all that much about them.  She wanted to write in her own raw, idiosyncratic way and she wasn’t going to change.
It’s ironic that, after her death, many of her works – she left almost 2,000 poems – were published, and she would undoubtedly have been upset to see that they had all been “corrected” by editors, the syntax rearranged and everything rewritten in the conventional poetic style and approved grammar of that era.
It wasn’t till 1955 that Thomas Johnson published Dickinson's poems for the first time in their original formats, thus displaying the creative genius and peculiarity of her poetry.


(Also for Three Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "V" is for "Value")
Here’s this week’s Berownial quiz.

I wrote the following letter.  In it I play the part of a stuffy, overly pedantic English teacher, Mr. Carlyle, writing to a woman who had asked to have her poems evaluated.  The letter is fiction, but there was such a poetess, who lived in Amherst, Massachusetts, and who had a strange and unique poetic style.

Your assignment, assuming you choose to accept it, is: who was she?

Dear Miss ---------------:

You have sent me a number of your “poems,” adding that you would appreciate my criticism.

Well, I believe that deep inside you, hidden under a quantity of grammatical errors and inept usages, the heart of a poet lies beating.

However, my criticism is simple.  You show you have the makings of a genuine poet but you should take a course in elementary grammar-school English.

The English language is your tool, it is what you have to work with, and your knowledge of this tool is, well, pathetic.  Poetry filled with grammatical errors simply has no VALUE.

Here’s a poem you sent me.

I fear a Man of frugal Speech —
I fear a Silent Man —
Haranguer — I can overtake —
Or Babbler — entertain —

Why on earth all the dashes?  Then there are those capital letters, often used, as far as I can see, for no good reason.  And whatever happened to the period as a way to end a sentence? 

I must admit that you sent one poem that I thought could be perfectly acceptable, if we fix all the errors.

I taste a liquor never brewed --
From Tankards scooped in Pearl --
Not all the Vats upon the Rhine
Yield such an Alcohol!

Inebriate of Air -- am I --
And Debauchee of Dew --
Reeling -- thro endless summer days --
From inns of Molten Blue –-


Again, the capitals; again, the usual evil, the dashes.  And I have to admit that I chuckled at the thought that “pearl” rhymes with “alcohol.” 

Remember, there are rules that must be followed when writing poetry.  You mentioned that you have drawers-full of poems you have written.  I assume that instead of being smooth they too are in your usual raw, serrated style.

Unless you make the necessary corrections and avoid the grammatical errors a ten-year-old wouldn’t make, and unless your attempts follow the basic rules of poetry, all your efforts will have been in vain.

Sorry to have to rain on your parade.  I hope my suggestions and criticism will be of help.

(Also submitted to Sunday Scribblings.)

 

44 comments:

Roger Owen Green said...

Amherst isn't far from here. Emily Dickinson is the first female New England poet that comes to mind.

Berowne said...

Roger Owen Green, once again, has given us a correct answer.

kaykuala said...

Emily Dickinson I should think, Berowne!

Hank

Bee's Blog said...

Emily Dickinson.

Tess Kincaid said...

Emily Dickinson...

Berowne said...

kaykuala, Bee's Blog and our own Tess Kincaid have provided us with the right answer.

Altonian said...

Emily Dickinson, but I admit I had to research this for the answer. Am I disqualified? I wouldn't blame you.

Kathe W. said...

Emily Dickinson- and I like dashes! hahah! Have a great week!

Kodjo Deynoo said...

I went back to read on my own poems, just to make sure I do not offend.lol

Other Mary said...

Before I even go past the introduction I'm thinking it's dear Emily (Dickenson).

Berowne said...

Two more "winners," the right answer has come from Altonian and Kathe W.

Berowne said...

Other Mary has just joined us with the correct answer.

oldegg said...

Hopefully she is an inspiration for many poets. It is Emily Dickinson.

izzy said...

No guess, but thanks for visiting!

Linda said...

Is the poet Emily Dickinson?

naturgesetz said...

Amherst was all I needed to think of Emily Dickinson.

Sharp Little Pencil said...

Oh, could it be our little Belly of Amherst, Emily Dickinson? As Shatner would say: "It - might - be - POSSIBLE!"

Amy

Frankie Jay said...

I am going to guess Emily Dickinson, straight off, even though I have no idea where she was born.

Berowne said...

Five more - ! - have come up with the right answer: Frankie Jay, Sharp Little Pencil, naturgesetz, Linda and oldegg.

Wanda Bates said...

You know, in spite of all your horrific grammatical errors, I quite enjoyed your poems.

(just kidding about the horrific grammatical errors.)

I don't know the right answer, I'm afraid. Unless it's 42.

Altonian said...

Thanks Berowne, you're very generous.

Kutamun said...

Mrs H P Lovecraft ?

Lyn said...

Did she take your advice?? I mean, Emily Dickinson...

Berowne said...

Lyn has given us a Lynnishly good answer to this week's quiz question.

Berowne said...

Altonian wrote: "Thanks Berowne, you're very generous."
Not generous; it's just that we get so few answers from Finland that we treasure each one. :-)

Nana Jo said...

Could this be our dear Emily Dickinson?

This is so clever!

Berowne said...

Nana Jo is the latest to cough up the right answer.

Meryl said...

Who is Emily Dickenson?

Leslie: said...

Emily Dickinson

Leslie
abcw team

Hildred said...

Emily Dickinson - I like the lines about the Landlord and the Foxgloves and the Drunken Bees.

Kate said...

None other than Emily Dickinson. I'm on a roll this SHOULD be my fifth in a row.

Berowne said...

Quite a group has joined our group: Meryl, Leslie, Hildred and Kate all gave the right answer. Kate, by the way, has had five in a row. !

uberrhund said...

Miss Emily Dickinson!
Who has provided me with many hours of pleasant reading.

Doctor FTSE said...

Your hidden poet must surely be
Miss Dickinson, first name Emily.
Misplaced caps. Not many dots (.)
And dashes (-) lots and lots AND LOTS!

Spectra Ghostseeker said...

I can't say I know the answer, but I'm sure my work would be acceptable to all the more high-fallutin' publications if only I contracted this person to fix all my errors! However, I enjoy having friends in low places.

hyperCRYPTICal said...

Methinks Emily Dickinson?

Anna :o]

Sheilagh Lee said...

Emily Dickinson

Gattina said...

I am happy with the English I learned as second language (or 3rd) because I also had to learn French, living in Belgium.
Gattina
ABC Team

Berowne said...

Two more have bravely stepped up with the right answer: Sheilagh Lee and hyperCRYPTICal.

Berowne said...

They keep coming: Doc FTSE and uberrhund both have generously given us the correct answer.

Karen S. said...

Ah, Emily Dickinson!

Berowne said...

Karen S also has come up with the right answer.

Sue said...

Shoot! Sorry I missed this before you gave the answer, as I would have immediately recognized the work of one of my favorite poets...

It was interesting to read that her first poems were published "corrected." I'm sure that would have annoyed her no end!

=)

Nara Malone said...

Corrections can really ruin a poem :) as far as the poets intended meaning. I'm glad someone published her work as she meant it to be seen.

 
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