Split the Lark–and You’ll Find the Music?

Lark     Protected by Copyscape Online Copyright Protection      A recent online exchange with a fellow blogger about the inexpressible and inexplicable nature of really great books brought to mind the following poem by Emily Dickinson. I thought I’d share it with you for it captures so concisely and aphoristically, in Dickinson’s own inimitable way, the often ridiculous and ultimately doomed human tendency to want to tear great things apart (and thus kill or ruin them) in order to figure out how they “work”—or worse, to determine if they are really “real.”

Literary criticism and analysis can only go so far.  True, it can elucidate and open up previously unappreciated aspects of great works and place them in context, thereby enhancing a reader’s appreciation and enjoyment.  But when all is said and done, there is no satisfying explanation for authentic genius and inspiration for it defies our means and categories at every turn.

 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?


About Margaret Jean Langstaff

A lifelong critical reader with literary tastes, a novelist, short story writer, essayist, book critic, and professional book editor for many years. A consultant to publishers and authors, providing manuscript critiques and a full range of editorial services. A friend and supporter of all other readers and writers. A collector of signed modern first editions. Animal lover and tree hugger. Follow me on Twitter @LangstaffEditor
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4 Responses to Split the Lark–and You’ll Find the Music?

  1. Lonie Fulgham says:

    Her dashes (hyphen?) are like tiny daggers 🙂 Thanks for sharing!


  2. Lonie Fulgham says:

    Wow, that one really got me.


  3. Yes, that’s what a great poet does, she/he “gets” you right where you live– Dickinson herself said in a letter that she knew physically when a poem was great: she said she would become so cold “no fire could warm me.”


  4. BTW, those are indeed dashes and she used them liberally, both for emphasis to highlight words and phrases and to indicate pauses in a poem’s meter.


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