Now you can try and translate Dickinson's poems into Russian yourself.


You left me, sweet, two legacies,--(Bequest)

You left me, sweet, two legacies,--
A legacy of love
A Heavenly Father would content,
Had He the offer of;
You left me boundaries of pain
Capacious as the sea,
Between eternity and time,
Your consciousness and me.



Mine-by the Right of the White Election!

Mine-by the Right of the White Election!
Mine-by the Royal Seal!
Mine-by the Sign in the Scarlet prison-
Bars-cannot conceal!
Mine-here-in Vision-and in Veto!
Mine-by the Grave's Repeal-
Delirious Charter!
Mine-long as Ages steal!



When Night is almost done-

When Night is almost done-
And Sunrise grows so near
That we can touch the Spaces-
It's time to smooth the Hair-
And get the Dimples ready-
And wonder we could care
For that old-faded Midnight-
That frightened-but an Hour-



A precious-mouldering pleasure-'tis-

A precious-mouldering pleasure-'tis-
To meet an Antique Book-
In just the Dress his Century wore-
A privilege-I think-
His venerable Hand to take-
And warming in our own-
A passage back-or two-to make-
To Times when he-was young-
His quaint opinions-to inspect-
His thought to ascertain
On Themes concern our mutual mind-
The Literature of Man-
What interested Scholars-most-
What Competitions ran-
When Plato-was a Certainty-
And Sophocles-a Man-
When Sappho-was a living Girl-
And Beatrice wore
The Gown that Dante-deified-
Facts Centuries before
He traverses-familiar-
As One should come to Town-
And tell you all your Dreams-were true-
He lived-where Dreams were born-
His presence is Enchantment-
You beg him not to go-
Old Volume shake their Vellum Heads
And tantalize-just so-


I gave myself to him,
And took himself for pay.
The solemn contract of a life
Was ratified this way

The value might disappoint,
Myself a poorer prove
Than this my purchaser suspect,
The daily own of Love

Depreciates the sight;
But, 'til the merchant buy,
Still fabled, in the isles of spice
The subtle cargoes lie.

At least, 'tis mutual risk,
Some found it mutual gain;
Sweet debt of Life,each night to owe,
Insolvent, every noon.


The Civil War and the Gilded Age

I. Read the text and answer the questions:


1. What themes of Emily Dickinsons poetry are mentioned in the passage?

2. Why did these themes appear in her writing?

3. Why does the author say that she had the least influence on her time?

4. How do you understand the term, used by Dickinson, prop" for the soul?

5. Why do you think the author called her the modern Existentialist?

6. Can you explain the title of the passage?


II. Make a summary of the text.



Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) was another New England woman who wrote during the Civil War era. But we find no mention of the war or any other great national event in her poetry. She lived a quiet, very private life in a big old house in her little hometown of Amherst, Massachusetts. Of all the great writers of the nineteenth century, she had the least influence on her times. Yet, because she was cut off from the outside world, she was able to create a very personal and pure kind of poetry. Since her death, her reputation has grown enormously and her poetry is now seen as very modern for its time.

At first this might seem surprising. Like Anne Bradstreet and the other old Puritan poets, Dickinson seldom lost sight of the grave:


I heard a fly buzz when I died.

With blue, uncertain, stumbling buzz,

between the light and me;

And then the windows failed, and then

I could not see.


Dickinsons own Calvinist childhood gave her this way of looking at life in terms of death. In nineteenth-century America, with its steam engines and big factory chimneys, such a view probably seemed old-fashioned. It did, however, allow her to see things freshly. As one recent critic notices, she seems to be looking at the world for the first and last time.

Although she rejected her familys old-fashioned religion early in life, she made the search for faith one of the great themes of her work. Apart from the Bible, her most important guide in this search was the philosophy of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Many, in fact, try to classify her as one of the Transcendentalists. Like the Transcendentalists, she saw the possible as more important than the actual. She felt that people had to move outward towards limits shrouded in mystery. To grow as human beings we must be brave, because we can cling to nothing". This idea comes from Emerson's Self-Reliance. Dickinson never came to any firm conclusions about the nature of faith. In one famous poem, she seems to think of it as a temporary prop for the soul. After it grows stronger, the soul (seen here as a house) no longer needs this prop of faith at all. As always, she writes in the meter of the hymns of her childhood church days:


The props assist the house

Until the house is built

And then the props withdraw


The house supports itself.


In 1879, she returned to the subject of faith. Sometimes her definition is far less confident (or self-reliant). Still, it is quite characteristic of her own personality:


Not seeing, still we know

Not knowing, guess

Not guessing, smile and hide

And half caress


Dickinsons poetry is filled with images and themes taken from Emersons essays. But almost always, she gives them a new and exciting interpretation. In the early 1860s, however, a rather different theme began to show in her work: pain and limitation. With Emerson these things were hardly ever discussed. (Melville once described Emerson as a man who had never had a toothache".) This new theme in Dickinson was her way - probably her only way - of expressing the terrible suffering of the Civil War. But with her, it was always the pain of the lonely person at night, never that of the whole battlefield. It was the pain of the modern Existentialist. The world is "a place where God and nature are silent", and the universe is a "design of darkness".


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