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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Moby-Dick and the Poems of Emily Dickinson (I taste a liquor never brewed)

Naming Liberty is the latest book by Jane Yolen: two parallel stories, of a small girl and a of a young artist. The girl emigrates to America and she wonders what name to choose for herself in the new country. The artist is dreaming of a monument he wants to build to honor freedom. The artist is Bartholdi, and the Statue of Liberty is the first thing the girl would see once arrived in America.

Jane Yolen is a writer of children's literature: she has the gift to explain on the language of kids history as it was. Her best known novella is The Devil's Arithmetic that tells the horrors of the Holocaust.

Jane Yolen gave her list of Five Most Important Books to Newsweek. Here it is:

  1. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville (a book she rereads every 10 years, which is coming up again: she even loves the whale parts)
  2. Winter's Tales by Isak Dinesen (it has two of her favorite Dinesen stories, Sorrow Acre and The Sailor-Boy's Tale)
  3. The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson (her poems taught her to tell all the truth/but tell it slant).
  4. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak (this stood the world of children's picture books on its head in 1963)
  5. The Great Stink by Clare Clark (she read this mystery novel set in the London sewers in one long, stinking sitting)
I love the way Jane Yolen speaks about Moby-Dick. And I love the poetry of Emily Dickinson:

I taste a liquor never brewed,
From tankards scooped in pearl;
Not all the vats upon the Rhine
Yield such an alcohol!

Inebriate of air am I,
And debauchee of dew,
Reeling, through endless summer days,
From inns of molten blue.

When landlords turn the drunken bee
Out of the foxglove’s door,
When butterflies renounce their drams,
I shall but drink the more!

Till seraphs swing their snowy hats,
And saints to windows run,
To see the little tippler
Leaning against the sun!

Sorb un rachiu nemaigustat
Din ţoiuri de mărgăritar;
Nici butiile de pe Rin
Nu dau aşa spirt rar.

Cu rouă mă destrăbălez,
Mă-mbăt cu aer pur
Şi zile lungi de vară pierd
Prin crăşme de azur.

Când şi bondarul cherchelit
E scos pe-al nalbei prag,
Când nici un flutur nu mai bea
Eu mau vârtos îi trag,

Până ce sfinţi şi heruvimi
La geamuri vin în goană
S-o vadă-n soare şovăind
Pe mica beţivană.
Romanian rendering by Leon Leviţchi and Tudor Dorin

(Emily Dickinson)



  • Thanks for posting this. It makes me want to read all these books now.

    By Blogger sara Halley, at 6:23 AM  

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