Friday, August 10, 2007

The Belle of Amherst and The Yellow Rose of Texas

Focal by Michele Goldstein

We never know how high we are
Till we are called to rise;
And then, if we are true to plan,
Our statures touch the skies.

The heroism we recite
Would be a daily thing,
Did not ourselves the cubits warp
For fear to be a king.

This is one of my favorite poems by Emily Dickinson. I memorized it when I was in grade school. It is a sad fact that I can still recite this poem by heart, but I can never remember if I've locked the door after I've left the house.

Anyway, the meter that Emily Dickinson used in her poetry is a little unusual. Indeed, it is so unusual that it lends itself to a bit of a peculiarity - almost every one of her poems can be sung to the tune of "The Yellow Rose of Texas." Go on, give it a try - I'll wait here. ("Beeecause I could not stop for Death, He kindly stopped for mmeeeee...") See what I mean? There are a few exceptions - "Safe in their Alabaster Chambers" doesn't really work, for example. By and large, however, Emily Dickinson's poems are eminently singable. I suppose it says something about my education that this is the one tidbit of knowledge that I picked up in college (from a friend,
not from the classroom) that has really stuck with me. Yup.

By the way, if you have any interest in Emily Dickinson, watch "The Belle of Amherst", starring Julie Harris. It's a wonderful, wonderful production. I believe it was filmed by "Great Performances".

Finally - the beads. The above photo is an older piece - the focal is by Michele Goldstein. The accent beads are all of my beginner's lampworked beads of which I was very proud, when I made them. Sorry, Michele...

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