May 21, 2015

Emily Dickinson on Gilligan's Island

In reading a post online about some Emily Dickinson trivial curiosities and the one that struck me again (because I heard Billy Collins talk about it years ago in a workshop) was her connection to the castaways on Gilligan's Island.

If you want to sing most of her poems (and I could imagine myself doing this with students), use the theme to TV's 1960s "classic" Gilligan's Island.

Give it a try with the first stanza of "Because I Could Not Stop For Death":

Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality.

If somehow the melody of "The Ballad Of Gilligan's Isle" is not burned into your neurons deeper than any poem, give a listen:

And the why of it working is that Emily usually used the "common meter" in her poems. The TV theme also uses it, and it is used in lots of nursery rhymes and Protestant hymns. It's four beats followed by three beats.

You could play the same game with other songs, but imagining Emily on the beach with Ginger and mar

1 comment:

  1. I remember in the sitcom "Head of the Class" it was stated that Dickinson's poems could be sung to the tune of "The Yellow Rose of Texas". Not all of them, as it turns out.