Guests in Eden

American poetry, the most recent being that of M. Jean Catel. One of Emily Dickinson's poems has been translated into Rus­sian in an anthology circulated throughout the U. S. S. R. She seems not yet to have been translated into Chinese, though her poems have been read to audiences in China. And I know of a monograph now being written on a most fascinating subject: "Birds in Chinese Painting, and in the Poems of Emily Dickin­son." The Japanese, who had the first Whitman society, prob­ably know something of Emily Dickinson. But the center of Dickinsonia in the Orient has been the old Spanish-built Manila in the fronded Philippines; because of the number of American teachers there, and of our educational activities. In those far Pacific islands, where she slips easily from English into Spanish, many read her in the original, as many do in France.

If we seek the poems of Emily Dickinson in their earliest Spanish translation we must go to Spain, the mother country. In 1916, the famous lyric poet, Juan Ram6n Jim6nez, included three of her poems in his DIARIO DE UN POFTA, published in Madrid. Like most poets, Emily was an independent, an orig­inal geographer. She drew her map of the world with instru­ments and data fashioned from her profound experience of heart and mind and soul. The maps in her old schoolbooks, and the travel books and conversations of returned voyagers were studded with strange and intoxicatingly beautiful place­ names. Sun-drenched lands attracted her who often expressed a preference for a "tropic ... .. South America" had a quick ap­peal. Into two of her love poems she "painted" the names of Chimbarazu and Buenos Aires. Cordillera, Pizarro, Potosi, Andes, Peru, Brazil, caught her ear and her vibrant fancy.

South America is now coming to know something of Emily Dickinson. She has often been translated into Spanish and Portuguese in the Latin American literary journals. She can now be read in anthologies emanating from three South American capitals: POETAS NORTEAMERICANOS, published in Rio de Janeiro by the Bureau de Informaciones Panamericanas, 1943; POESIA ESTADOUNIDENSE, edited by Alberto Weis, Buenos Aires,

image | previous page | next page | search the archives

  Critical Materials Main Menu
Transcription and commentary copyright 2000 by
Martha Nell Smith, all rights reserved.
Maintained by Lara Vetter <>
Last updated on March 10, 2008

Dickinson Electronic Archives