Not long ago I read The Portable Walt Whitman, an edited but complete collection of Whitman’s poetry, fiction, and accounts of his time in Washington, D.C., during the Civil War. What a contrast between him and his contemporary, Dickinson! Where Whitman is voluble, open (perhaps to extremes), and accessible, Dickinson is brief (a few poems are only two lines long), often cryptic, and many times difficult to parse.
Reading the entire collection of all 1775 poems, plus variations, cover to cover is a task only for the determined. Or the patient. Even at a pace of 25 poems a day, it still took me over two months to get through them all, and “get through” is the right term...Read More