Thursday, June 11, 2015

David Mitchell plays around with a bit of poetry in The Bone Clocks: A Novel

Emily Dickinson
Google Books

David Mitchell takes the thoughts of one of his protagonists, Crispin Hershey, and segues into a bit of poetry in The Bone Clocks: A Novel, following the . . .
. . . spirals [of] Hershey's absent mind, known only unto squirrels and crows; the Hudson River stately winds between the Catskills' pigeon-toes; a train's revealed, a train's obscured, a quote around a broken cup, "I like to see it lap the miles and lick the valleys up."
Those quotation marks reveal Mitchell to be alluding to an Emily Dickinson poem:
I like to see it lap the Miles -
And lick the Valleys up -
And stop to feed itself at Tanks -
And then - prodigious step

Around a Pile of Mountains -
And supercilious peer
In Shanties - by the sides of Roads -
And then a Quarry pare

To fit it's sides
And crawl between
Complaining all the while
In horrid - hooting stanza -
Then chase itself down Hill -

And neigh like Boanerges -
Then - prompter than a Star
Stop - docile and omnipotent
At it's own stable door -
Dickinson seems to be describing the 'iron horse' - ironically enough, for Crispin Hershey's train of thought has gone off track.

But what's this ungrammatical "it's" doing in the poem? Twice even! Doesn't Dickinson know the difference the contraction "it's" and the possessive "its"? How could she call herself a poet if she gets "it" wrong?

Just kidding . . .

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