1. 1.
    traveling from place to place, especially working or based in various places for relatively short periods.
    "the peripatetic nature of military life"
    synonyms:nomadic, itinerant, traveling, wandering, roving, roaming, migrant,migratory, unsettled
    "I could never get used to her peripatetic lifestyle"
  2. 2.
  1. 1.
    a person who travels from place to place.
  2. 2.
    an Aristotelian philosopher.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

One Anguish in a Crowd, Do You Hear?: Things in the News That Fire the Imagination and Make a Sound

If you live in New York or somehow keep up with the news (Internet, television, newspapers), you know there's a lot of stuff going on. Things to fire the imagination, if nothing else. Besides the Palestinian statehood issue being discussed at the United Nations, former President Bill Clinton is heading up his annual Global Initiative meeting. Today marks the last day for panel discussions among leaders from around the world. Lots of interesting topics on the agenda. It's not yesterday's news. You can watch it and hear it happening live right now. Better hurry, though. Time's almost up. Then it will be history. Stuff to write about.

One hundred days from today, the year will end. There were as many days left in 1862 when Abraham Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation, scheduled to take effect on January 1, 1863. Ever wonder how the idea of slavery stoked the American literary imagination during that time and even before when the Fugitive Slave Law was in effect? It's not difficult to find plenty of examples. Walt Whitman, John Greenleaf Whittier, Emily Dickinson....

Poets with an ear to the ground, listening to friends, neighbors, pastors, families talk about their fears, hopes, and plans for their place in this country's future. Poets reading the newspaper articles that carried details of bloody battles like the one at Antietam. Letters from loved ones wounded on the front lines made it clear. From a military standpoint, that particular battle was a draw, meaning nobody lost or won. From the standpoint of political strategists on the Union side, it was declared a victory (Lee withdrew his troops) and gave Lincoln the fuel he needed to stoke the fire of public opinion. An Emancipation Proclamation, an Executive Order, was written, not a repealable thing, and the rest is history.

One Anguish--in a Crowd--
A Minor thing--it sounds--
And yet, unto the single Doe
Attempted of the Hounds

'Tis Terror as consummate
As Legions of Alarm
Did leap, full flanked, upon the Host--
'Tis Units--make the Swarm--

A Small Leech--on the Vitals--
The sliver, in the Lung--
The Bung out--of an Artery--
Are scarce accounted--Harms--

Yet mighty--by relation
To that Repealless thing--
A Being--impotent to end--
When once it has begun--

(a poem by Emily Dickinson, c. 1862)


  1. I do think sometimes about how world events shape art and literature. And then there at the end I got distracted thinking about Emily Dickinson and all those little scraps of paper...

    good stuff, girl. Only 100 days, eh? *sigh* :p

  2. I think the news gives peeps a heachache, W2W. I know my head hurts when I hear it.