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17 October 2011

Many cross the Rhine -

Many cross the Rhine
In this cup of mine.
Sip old Frankfort air
From my brown Cigar.
                                                  - F107 (1859)  123
Demi channels Emily

I’m liking the mental image of Emily sitting out on her verandah overlooking her garden with a glass of Rhine wine and smoking a fine cigar. Of course, Miss Dickinson doesn’t just huff and puff, she takes the occasional “Sip” from the Cigar. The first two lines also indicate that many others have come by to enjoy the wine from the poet’s cup.
            It’s likely, however, that she has turned what one of her world-traveled friends might say – or had said – into a poem.
            The poem is essentially two rhymed trimeter couplets. The last syllable is dropped, so the lines are catalectic trochaic (emphasis on the first syllable: DA dum) trimeter. The effect of dropping the last syllable is to create two stressed syllables together from the end of one line to the first of the next (e.g., “mine. / Sip”). This is a poem that benefits from being said aloud. All the words and lines work together and the long vowel sounds make it a bit chewy in texture (Rhine, mine, air, brown).


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