Yesterday, I reread Emily Dickison’s ‘Split the lark’:
SPLIT the lark and you’ll find the music,
Bulb after bulb, in silver rolled,
Scantily dealt to the summer morning,
Saved for your ear when lutes be old.
Loose the flood, you shall find it patent,
Gush after gush, reserved for you;
Scarlet experiment! Sceptic Thomas,
Now, do you doubt that your bird was true?
The poem is every bit as bloody as I remembered. I find the imagery of this poem disturbing and unlike Dickinson. Reading this poem, I imagine Thomas* as a small boy dissecting a bird to find the music hidden within. I wonder if Emily chose the word ‘sceptic’ instead of the usual ‘doubting’ to describe Thomas because it sounds and looks like ‘septic’ (I have very little evidence to support that speculation** other than her word choices – gushing, scarlet, loose the flood).
The poem is also a little disturbing (to me) because it almost required you to do what the poet is asking you not to go. The poem is about not taking something apart to understand it, but it must be taken apart to get to its nuances.
What reminded me of this poem was reading James Dasher’s The Maze Runner and The Scorch Trials. *** SPOILER WARNING *** As I read this series, I wondered what compelled Thomas (yes, just like in the poem) and Theresa to knowingly subject themselves and the other children to the horrors of the maze and the scorch trails. Do they really hope to find a cure by undergoing experiences of horror and gruesome death and analyzing them (like the Thomas in the poem hoped to find the music in the dead bird’s body)?
Have you read the Maze Runner and Scorch Trials?
—– FOOTNOTES ——
* She is referring to the biblical story of Doubting Thomas.
** This could also be a reference to Thomas Moore who wrote a satiric piece called The Sceptic.
For more poetry, visit Poetry Friday hosted this week at A Year of Reading.
I love connections like this! I haven’t read The Maze Runner, but I think we do own it and it’s somewhere around here. Do you recommend it? The first book in the 13th Reality series drove me a little bit crazy because I thought the storytelling was good, but the writing was still trying to get up to speed.
I found the writing plot-driven at the expense of character development and there was too much telling and not enough showing. The premise and story were interesting enough that they drew me in, but I didn’t care for the characters or get upset when they died.
Oh, I like it, and I must confess Emily Dickinson isn’t exactly a favorite of mine. For the last few days the kids have been watching a dead frog decompose on the sidewalk. They clearly need to do it.
And this is why kids are wonderful and funny. :)
I enjoy your speculation. I don’t know this poem but like others by Dickinson, she shows her observations and gives no outcome really, or answers to the questions. So often I would like more. Perhaps that is her gift? I have read The Maze Runner, but not the second, so don’t remember that there was a choice. Maybe that’s in book 2. Interesting connection, Katya. Thanks.
I love it when poems and books “talk” to each other.
Ooh, the gore! Love your ponderings and connections…
Katya, I didn’t respond when I first read this. Then I went to the following Poetry Friday post — Ed Decaria with Marianne Moore’s “Poetry.” These lines:
one discovers in
it after all, a place for the genuine.
Hands that can grasp, eyes
that can dilate, hair that can rise
if it must,
And I had to come back because Miss Emily made my hair rise on that one!
Katya, Thanks for the book recommendation. I’m always looking for high concept series for my teen. I don’t think I’ve come across this Dickinson poem before. It reminds me of the Michelangelo sketches of the muscles of hands, for which he must have done dissections. But I think there’s something about faith in this poem, too.
Maze Runner was a huge hit in our classroom this year, but your connecting it to Dickinson now makes me want to read it! I do love when (as Mary Lee said) books and poems talk to each other!
Fascinating, Katya. I’m wincing along with you – I didn’t know this Dickinson poem, so I appreciate your sharing it. (Your conjecture re. “Sceptic” sounds right to me – I even read it that way in my head the first time!) Haven’t read the series you mentioned, but glad other commenters could respond to that part.
Wow, I never read this one. You’re right, it’s not like her work.