William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

Tag Archive for ‘Reading’

What Happened to Emily?

It would be foolish to suppose I know more about Emily Dickinson than anyone else who has taken the time to read her nearly eighteen hundred poems. In fact it’s likely I know much less. But I’ve loved her music, and will go on loving it. Cryptic as many of her poems seem to me, she was an artist in her subtle use of near rhyme and transformative rendering of […]

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Warm, the Flesh, Sweet, the Veil

Noted thus far, very lightly in pencil, near the top of the blank page opposite the Index of First Lines, the poems numbered 435, 712, and 730, beginning, respectively, Much Madness is divinest Sense — I could not stop for Death — Defrauded I a Butterfly — all three of which are old favorites of mine — and yet when I encountered them in my slow but steady progress through […]

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Letters, Journals, and Poems

This afternoon I finished reading the third volume of Thoreau’s journal — the third of fourteen, as published in 1906 by Houghton Mifflin and Company. And I am set to begin The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, after reading the introduction for the fourth or fifth time early this morning. As with Whitman, I continue my habit of reading aloud — except in the case of The Letters of Henry […]

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Long Island Line

In the form of his complete poetry and prose, Walt Whitman has been a daily companion of mine for the last three months. Today I opened and closed the uncommon-common book of his life for the last time — but not, if I am granted the necessary health and a similar span of years, for ever or for all time. Clearly, there is much about our time that would not […]

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The Curse

In his journal entry for April 4, 1852, Thoreau begins: I have got to the pass with my friend that our words do not pass with each other for what they are worth. We speak in vain; there is none to hear. He finds fault with me that I walk alone, when I pine for want of a companion; that I commit my thoughts to a diary even on my […]

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Shadows on the Sidewalk

For sidewalk, Walt Whitman liked to use the word trottoir. Offhand, I can think of no other nineteenth century American writer who did so — this, of course, based on my faulty memory and limited reading. Word choice aside, one thing I’m noticing this time through his Specimen Days, is that buildings and trains are every bit as alive to him as oaks and sparrows — indeed, in his poetic […]

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Traces

Thoreau, off on a tramp, writing by moonlight. Whitman, bending a sapling to test his paralyzed strength. Bathing in ponds. Crow-voices. Wild flowers. Bumblebees. The nighttime parade of stars. The names of ferry-boat captains. Snow to the waist. Ice-cakes in the river. Big families. Poetry. Geology. Boot laces. Wild carrots. The end of the war. My hand on the knob. Your knock on the door.

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Canvas 792 — Montaigneity

Canvas 792 — November 25, 2016

On any given day — and all days are given, and never to be taken for granted — what I think, what I know, and whatever conclusions I reach are of such a temporary nature that I can hardly see how they might be useful to another. They are born of what I might call the Montaigneity of the moment, and serve as matches held up in the darkness of […]

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Sunday’s Child

At long last I can say I have read Leaves of Grass — every word, in the poet’s final edition. I can also say that I have read each poem aloud, phrase by phrase, line by line, slowly, patiently, thoughtfully, carefully listening all the while. I had read Walt Whitman before. I had read his 1855 first edition, and many of his poems at random. And about fifteen years ago, […]

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Imagine a Word

They’ll say we knew each other, that we spoke to each other in poems, and that when at long last evening fell, we were solemn, we were still. December 4, 2019. Evening.   Imagine a Word Imagine a word deep in its image, and a page in an ice age burning for warmth. Imagine a tongue that is fire, before learning to speak. Imagine the ashes, and what they are […]

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