Monday, December 1, 2014

The Gorgeous Nothings: Emily Dickinson's Envelope Poems

Hannah loaned me this book months ago and I finally had time to read it this week. I have always felt indifferent to Dickinson but this may change my mind. The Gorgeous Nothings is the most elegantly printed monograph of worn paper and text that I have ever seen. Who wouldn't be enthralled with a page that reproduces aged paper resembling shark's teeth or an arrowhead flake?

The excerpts below focus on Dickinson's interest in birds as their migrations away from the Midwest in the fall are often on my mind. Beside each torn fragment printed to scale, there is a diagram that translates the handwriting into type.

In some cases, I was more enamored with the condition of the paper than Dickinson's text: particles floating on a white expanse, saved from further decay, memorialized in print.

I will leave you with one that was not scanned as the words were more important than the visual representation:

"There are those that are shallow intentionally and only profound by accident."

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