Wednesday, September 10, 2014

MOOC ModPo Poem of the Day: "The Brain, within its Groove" by Emily Dickinson

The Songs of Eretz MOOC ModPo Poem of the Day for September 10, 2014 is "The Brain, within its Groove" by Emily Dickinson.  A link to the poem may be found here:  http://www.writing.upenn.edu/~afilreis/88v/ed556.html.  Dickinson's poetry has been examined many times in the Poetry Review.  A brief biography and references may be found here:  http://eretzsongs.blogspot.com/2013/12/review-of-its-all-i-have-to-bring-today.html.

"The Brain, within its Groove" is another Dickinsonian ballad--this a straightforward traditional one that might have been composed by Wordsworth over a century earlier. The message, too, I think, is pretty straightforward.  She posits that once a thought intrudes upon the brain, it is impossible to resume the previous train of thought--the old "trying not to imagine an elephant" phenomenon.

Straightforward though this poem may be, there are several playful elements worth mentioning.  "Groove" implies a track, as for a train, as for a train of thought.  Also, the brain is made up of grooves anatomically--something Dickinson may have known.  She also plays with "Splinter" which suggests an intrusive thought and, literally, a splinter of wood, as in the wooden "Turnpike" in the second stanza.  "Current" has both literal and metaphorical meanings:  literally a rushing body of water; metaphorically, current may refer to the current of thought or the electrochemical mode of communication within the brain--another bit of science that Dickinson might have known.  "Floods" has similar literal and metaphorical meanings--a flood of water, and a flood of thoughts.  

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