There came a Wind like a Bugle
'America's two great visionary poets of the nineteenth century could hardly have
been more different in both lifestyle and poetic method. Walt Whitman, flamboyant,
boastful, gregarious, wrote in long unmetered lines and was full of words. Emily
Dickinson withdrew to beome a recluse, to experience to the full her inner world
and express it in brief, short-lined verses and fragments.
Having set Whitman texts in Sometimes with One I Love (1976) and
Watershore (1978) I was keen to meet the different challenge of responding to
Dickinson. Apart from the vivid imagery and the concentration of thought, the most
striking thing about her poetry is the punctuation, which ranges from nothing to a
profusion of dashes. (It is usually 'normalised' in editions of her work prior to the
Complete Poems, editied by T.H.Johnson, which first appeared in 1955)."