Trusty as the stars
Who quit their shining working
Prompt as when I lit them
In Genesis' new house,
Durable as dawn
Whose antiquated blossom
Makes a world's suspense
Perish and rejoice.
Jarkko Pylväs, Woodcut of Emily, 2010
Emily Dickinson, #1369, c. 1876
I am shamelessly lifting from the wonderful Secret Life of Emily Dickinson facebook page, so that I may have this woodcut image, a recently posted Dickinson poem that goes beautifully with it, and very lovely comments about the poem by, among others, Roelof Alexander Bijkerk, collected all in one place for myself.
The Secret Life of E.D.: Nice choice - not seen as often as Emily's other work.***
Roelof Alexander Bijkerk: I ran into that somehow today. Actually, I opened the book to it, I think. It's a magic book.
It's beautiful because to me she's talking about the inner stars (perhaps Genesis' house is like a reference to dream time), stars she lights at night... whose magic "Makes a world's suspense Perish and rejoice," when they quit their shining at the moment of dawn "Prompt as when I lit them."
And antiquated blossom is such an amazing way to balance the meaning of things and make reference to the dawn, yet making it out it be something you can trust like an old charm.
To keep these interrelated words & images all together (trusty as an old charm bracelet) I'm reprinting my original impressions of Jarkko's artwork, first posted 4 September 2010.
The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson facebook page has posted the most beautiful woodcut of E.D., made especially for them by a Finnish artist, Jarkko Pylväs. I am so struck by the image. It's like a photographic negative, or black chalkboard with designs etched in white, or an electrified afterimage, as when you look at something dazzlingly bright, shut your eyes, and the image inverts and repeats aglow. It captures E.D. and what she's about beautifully. She's surrounded by feathers, webs, "gods eyes" (ornaments I made as a very little girl, yarn wound and woven around a cross of popsicle sticks - called "gods eyes"), a crescent moon, stars, snowflakes, moonbeams, and starlight. He has captured E.D.'s likeness, idiosyncratic image instantly recognizable - hair parted in a bun, pudgy nose and full-lipped mouth, ribbon crossed at her throat - yet has managed to capture a most elusive quality, a sense of her poetic capacity. She does not look directly at us, as in the iconic daguerrotype. Rather - and more evocatively - she has thought of something; pensive, she looks away, off to the side, heeding the starlight and gods eyes and feathers and webs and stars - she hears beyond the genius of the sea.***
Of Glory not a Beam is leftEmily Dickinson, #1647, c. 1886
But her Eternal House --
The Asterisk is for the Dead,
The Living, for the Stars --
The Secret Life of E.D.: The last poem Emily Dickinson wrote before her death (in 1886)...It could have been her epitaph - as many of her poems on death could have been. Yes, even many of her poems on life. Was Emily's whole body of work her epitaph in a way?***
Roelof Alexander Bijkerk: I think she was pointing out that the stars guide us (an idea of the greatness of the human soul) and the Asterisk is like that hint that there's something more, although we thought death ended it, nothing being left but the eternal; which... in cycle brings us back to the last line which points out that it was the eternal stars that gave us guidance the whole time and not "earthly" things.
That's what's so amazing about Emily, in her poems the light moves around like in a jewel, which when you follow the prism, you can stop trying to think and have your thoughts come from the stars, instead.
The Secret Life of E.D.: The asterisk looks like a star and its root is a star - another Emily riddle? Asterisk from the Greek for "little star"...
Happy Thanksgiving Emily, Secret Life of Emily, Lenore, Jerome, Mark T., Jarkko, Roelof, Christopher, Lyndall, and others. I give thanks for the many wonderful journeys I've taken over the last several months on account of you!
Fastening the clasp - for now...