Thursday, April 3, 2008

Taggart on Religion in Howe on Dickinson.

The earliest of the cited images of the book's picture involves not only the forest of language once more but also religion and poetry in a relation of conflict. Religion hunts for poetry's freedom because it is dependent on the images of vision for its own existence and organization. Take away those images, and all the churches fall down. The church does not produce vision but enshrines and builds basilicas around it. Through these actions vision is turned into static dogma, suitably "stable" material for erecting an organization. Once an image is selected, all others are suspect and must be denied. To promote itself, religion becomes a demonstration of authority in the name of the chosen image. By definition, the hunter poet cannot be satisfied with the restricted movement permitted by the leash of dogma. There is no other recourse than rebellion. "Dickinson takes sovereignty away from God and bestows it on the Woods." And the woods are made of words.

from A Picture of Mystery and Power by John Taggart on My Emily Dickinson by Susan Howe



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