Āboliņš un bite / One Clover, & a Bee

Emily Dickinsnon

The bilingual Velvet Series represents American poet Emily Dickinson (1830—1886).

My goal in compiling this collection of a hundred and one selected poems was both to present an overview of Dickinson’s most popular poems, and to introduce Latvian readers to her characteristic motifs and images.

Kārlis Vērdiņš, compiler and translator

Dickinson’s poetry is traditionally ascribed to American romanticism. At the same time, one of the most popular words that researchers use to characterise Dickinson’s poetry, is idiosyncrasy, emphasizing the distinct peculiarity of her creative expression. Her contemporaries found it unacceptable: the fragmented form, heavily elliptical syntax, irregular use of capital letters emphasizing one or another word, the abundance of dashes in the middle and end of each line, the lack of punctuation, and grammatical errors.

When modernist poetic language experiments turned the perception of poetry upside down all across the world in the 20th century, Dickinson’s idiosyncratic texts did not repel, but fascinated and invited to solve the riddles proposed by the author.

Emily Dickisnon did not receive any wider acclaim during her lifetime.  The early 1860s are the apex of Emily’s creative career — she wrote most of her poems in these years. However, her productivity declined in the second half of the decade — she was busy with household chores, and her conviction that anyone might need her strange poems grew weaker and weaker.

After her death, Emily’s sister Lavinia found the poems she had written during her lifetime, almost 1800 texts — some of them organized in 40 small notebooks, others on separate sheets of paper. Despite familial strife, Emily Dickinson’s poetry gradually started to get published. In 1950, Harvard University acquired Dickinson’s literary heritage, providing an opportunity to scholar Thomas H. Johnson to create a collection as complete as possible. His book of Dickinson’s collected poems, The Poems of Emily Dickinson, was published in 1955, comprising 1775 poems and fragments in chronological order with respect to her stylistic peculiarities. Johnson’s edition was also used as the basis of this Latvian translation, preserving his numeration, but the poems are organized thematically, like in the early editions.

The bilingual Velvet Series already includes selected poetry by Angelus Silezius, Rainer Maria Rilke, William Shakespeare, Joseph Brodsky, Walt Whitman, Jacques Prévert, Jānis Rokpelnis, W.B. Yeats, Nikolay Gumilyov, Juan Ramón Jiménez, E. E. Cummings, Semyon Khanin.


Āboliņš un bite / One Clover, & a Bee

In Latvian and English
Compiler and translator: Kārlis Vērdiņš
Editor: Jānis Elsbergs. Design: Anna Aizsilniece
Translations: Valdis Bisenieks, Jānis Andrejs Burtnieks, Andrejs Johansons, Erna Sprince
264 pp., paperback, ISBN 978-9934-565-30-4
Supported by the State Culture Capital Foundation

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