"Love follows knowledge."
"Beauty above all beauty!"
– St. Catherine of Siena

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Poem: To See the Summer Sky by Emily Dickinson

I was perusing Emily Dickinson’s The Complete Poems and came across this little one.  Well, just about all of Emily’s poems are little, but this is especially so: just three lines and seventeen words. 

To see the Summer Sky 
by Emily Dickinson

To see the Summer Sky
Is Poetry, though never in a Book it lie --
True Poems flee --

You may not notice it, but there’s craft there.  The first two lines rhyme with sky/lie.  Then there is the rhyme of syllable in “poetry” to the closing word, “flee.”  Six syllables in the first line are followed by a doubling of twelve syllables in the second line.  This sets up the really curt three syllables of the third line, which punctuates the central thesis, which is that nature itself is the truest poetry.  So she builds the lines on multiples of three syllables: 6, 12, 3.  That’s not an accident.  But also notice how, though not a rhyme, there is a sound relationship between the “lie” and flee.”  Both have that strong “l” sound in the opening consonant and both are monosyllabic.  The sound “ei” shifts to “ee” making it appear as a sort of sound inflection, such as sing/sung.  “Lie” appears to inflect to “flee” which gives the summer sky movement.  Excellent.

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