I had a terror since September, I could tell to none; and so I sing, as the boy does by the burying ground, because I am afraid.
You inquire my books. For poets, I have Keats, and Mr. and Mrs. Browning. For prose, Mr. Ruskin, Sir Thomas Browne, and the Revelations. I went to school, but in your manner of the phrase had no education. When a little girl, I had a friend who taught me Immortality; but venturing too near, himself, he never returned. Soon after my tutor died, and for several years my lexicon was my only companion. Then I found one more, but he was not contented I be his scholar, so he left the land.
You ask of my companions. Hills, sir, and the sundown, and a dog large as myself, that my father bought me. They are better than beings because they know, but do not tell; and the noise in the pool at noon excels my piano.
And, by the bye—
In his last novel The Last Novel, David Markson lamented a lack of—
America’s Emily Dickinson dime?
—this preceded by:
Before the Euro, the portrait of Yeats on Ireland’s twenty-pound note.
America’s Whitman twenty-dollar bill, when?
The Melville ten?
“I Am in Danger—Sir—” by Adrienne Rich
“Half-cracked” to Higginson, living,
afterward famous in garbled versions,
your hoard of dazzling scraps a battlefield,
now your old snood
mothballed at Harvard
and you in your variorum monument
equivocal to the end—
who are you?
you, woman, masculine
for whom the word was more
than a symptom—
a condition of being.
Till the air buzzing with spoiled language
sang in your ears
and in your half-cracked way you chose
silence for entertainment,
chose to have it out at last
on your own premises.