I was pleased recently that a student shared John Green’s Crash Course English Literature with me. This YouTube project is impressive, and you can tell that the Green brothers have fun putting these video together. I think they create interesting digital dimensions, such as using the thought bubble, to help chunk the information well. Nevertheless, I pause at a few moments, such as the delination of white, as that symbol was complex, and we can not extend that interpretation of white throughout all of her poetry as some folks tried to do so in class the other day. Be patient with Aunt Emily. Like Emerson, she is large and she has contradictions. Allow each poem to offer new opportunities to create paradoxes and enigmatically subtext. Since the topic her white dress after this conversation, I thought I would have you visit Emily D’s digital home to learn more about the white dress: https://www.emilydickinsonmuseum.org/white_dress Important, too, is to see the recent garden tour at the New York Botantical Gardens and see how her white dress was the nineteenth century t-shirt and sweatpants of its day. http://blogs.nybg.org/plant-talk/2010/06/exhibit-news/emily-dickinson’s-white-dress/ Nevertheless, Green’s application of white works in this poem, but we should all be careful to apply that sense of white to all of her poems. Perhaps one of the best parts is how they show and explain meter, rhyme and slant rhyme. The anecdote about how Mozart’s children taunted him emphasizes well the satisfaction the reader craves and experiences with an effective rhyme.
And since John Green mentioned Melville (which is hard to do w/Melville b/c he is so large) and Melville’s ability to emphasize the terrifying blankness of nature,” I feel compelled to embed a link to Chapter 42, which brings up more issues of whiteness. http://americanliterature.com/author/herman-melville/book/moby-dick-or-the-whale/chapter-42-the-whiteness-of-the-whale
For more of a poet’s appreciation for Dickinson’s art and genius, listen to Billy Collins. I think his explanation of meter connects Dickinson’s poetry to nineteenthy century hymns and other cultural rhytyms. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128272101 For more interesing and recent scholarship that attempts to explain Dickinson’s biography through the theory that she suffered from epilepsy, click here: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=127906938