Notes in Emily Dickinson’s pocket – “A precious, mouldering pleasure ’t is” (Life, 10)

Emily_Dickinson_daguerreotype 3

A precious, mouldering pleasure ’t is
To meet an antique book,
In just the dress his century wore;
A privilege, I think,

His venerable hand to take,
And warming in our own,
A passage back, or two, to make
To times when he was young.

His quaint opinions to inspect,
His knowledge to unfold
On what concerns our mutual mind,
The literature of old;

What interested scholars most,
What competitions ran
When Plato was a certainty,
And Sophocles a man;

When Sappho was a living girl,
And Beatrice wore
The gown that Dante deified.
Facts, centuries before,

He traverses familiar,
As one should come to town
And tell you all your dreams were true:
He lived where dreams were born.

His presence is enchantment,
You beg him not to go;
Old volumes shake their vellum heads
And tantalize, just so.

Emily is said to have carried a pencil and scraps of paper in her pocket in order to always be prepared when a poem came her way.

~  “Tell all the Truth but tell it slant.”  ~

Image of Emily Dickinson – from the daguerreotype taken circa 1848. (my frame)
Poem – Emily Dickinson. Complete Poems. 1924.

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2 Responses to Notes in Emily Dickinson’s pocket – “A precious, mouldering pleasure ’t is” (Life, 10)

  1. wordcloud9 says:

    Thanks Joy!

    Emily knew her books as few people ever have.

    I have a reproduction of the original Encyclopædia Britannica, which was first published between 1768 and 1771 in Edinburgh, as three volumes. While it lacks the aging of the real thing, it does have the appearance of hand-set typeface, and the record of the science and medicine – and the misconceptions – of the period.

    So much has changed since then, but not everything. It is a bit of a time machine, and fascinating reading.

  2. Thank you, N. So intriguing, your Encyclopedia.
    Sometimes I when I read the old works, it seems there is no distance at all between the speaker and me.

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