Inamorata Question #23 ~ A Last Letter

by Joseph Gangemi

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DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
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Inamorata Question #23 ~ A Last Letter

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Thu Feb 23, 2006 9:32 am

pg. 318. In the letter Mina sends to Finch at the end of the book, Gangemi writes,



“She made no attempt to bring me up to date on all the doings of her life or work but rather seemed content to send along a fragment of a poem she had recently discovered (on the recommendation of new admirer W.B. Yeats) that reminded her of me.

‘It is a poem by Emily Dickinson. Perhaps you are familiar with it?”, Mina wrote, and went on to quote me thse four lines of verse: The Pleading of the Summer-- / That other Prank—of Snow-- / That Cushions Mystery with, Tulle, / For fear the Squirrels—know.” Though it was a poem about death, Mina wrote that it had cheered her (why did she need cheering?) because it had reminded her of a breakfast-table conversation we’d had once about squirrels, on that long-ago morning when she and I had first met.”




What is Mina trying to say? Why did Mina need cheering?
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -
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Unread postby Theresa » Thu Feb 23, 2006 2:21 pm

I feel rather like a dunce here because I can't figure out the poem. :dunce:

I even Googled and got the entire poem to see if I could make sense of it, but I don't understand what Emily Dickinson is saying. I hope someone here "gets" it, and can explain it to me!

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Unread postby Liz » Thu Feb 23, 2006 2:47 pm

Here is the entire poem for those of you who are interested. Thanks, Theresa, for sending me the link:

The Tint I cannot take—is best
Emily Dickinson


The Tint I cannot take—is best—
The Color too remote
That I could show it in Bazaar—
A Guinea at a sight—

The fine—impalpable Array—
That swaggers on the eye
Like Cleopatra’s Company—
Repeated—in the sky—

The Moments of Dominion
That happen on the Soul
And leave it with a Discontent
Too exquisite—to tell—

The eager look—on Landscapes—
As if they just repressed
Some Secret—that was pushing
Like Chariots—in the Vest—

The Pleading of the Summer—
That other Prank—of Snow—
That Cushions Mystery with Tulle,
For fear the Squirrels—know.

Their Graspless manners—mock us—
Until the Cheated Eye
Shuts arrogantly—in the Grave—
Another way—to see—
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Unread postby QueenofKings » Thu Feb 23, 2006 3:15 pm

Well, I get that the poem's about death, but I'd say it's more about how time is passing us by and there's nothing we can do to stop that. That said, I haven't the faintest clue why Mina needed cheering up. I hope someone else can enlighten me.

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Unread postby Gilbert's Girl » Thu Feb 23, 2006 3:33 pm

well I didn't get that it was anything to do with death, and I have no idea why she needed cheering up but maybe it just reminded her of a pleasant time talking with him. But as to the lines I always get the feeling there was some other hidden meaning in those word. Prank, and snow and that snow covers something with mystery or the mystery.Maybe I'm off track.

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Unread postby Liz » Thu Feb 23, 2006 3:42 pm

Gilbert's Girl wrote:well I didn't get that it was anything to do with death, and I have no idea why she needed cheering up but maybe it just reminded her of a pleasant time talking with him. But as to the lines I always get the feeling there was some other hidden meaning in those word. Prank, and snow and that snow covers something with mystery or the mystery.Maybe I'm off track.


I don't think you are off track. I was just typing this up while you were answering, GG:

During their conversation (pg. 75), Mina laughed at Martin, teasing him that squirrels were his answer to everything. I'm wondering if she is trying to send Martin a message.


This is what I think the lines mean:

The pleading of the Summer—
Martin’s persistent effort to pursue the truth.

That other Prank—of Snow—
She’s indicating it might have all been a trick or joke.

That cushions Mystery with Tulle,
Again she’s hinting that the truth was covered up with a thin veil. (Tulle is a thin netted fabric)

For fear the Squirrels—know.
And the squirrels know because they were in the eaves or attic.

Why she needs cheering up I still do not know.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Unread postby ThirdArm » Thu Feb 23, 2006 4:02 pm

When I read the poem I zeroed in on the words 'prank,' 'snow,' and 'tulle.' Snow because it covers thoroughly and you can't see through it and tulle because it can be seen through, but not very clearly, it's gauzy and translucent. Then, the word 'prank' because the whole thing probably was a set-up or prank.

The two words referring to coverings allude to revealing the mystery gradually, but not completely. And, I think, Mina is cheered because she managed to pull off the prank and left everyone still puzzled and the whole thing unresolved. Was she or wasn't she? That's what I was left with when I finished the book.

(On the other hand, I may be completely off base here....)
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Unread postby Liz » Thu Feb 23, 2006 4:22 pm

CharlotteinCA wrote:When I read the poem I zeroed in on the words 'prank,' 'snow,' and 'tulle.' Snow because it covers thoroughly and you can't see through it and tulle because it can be seen through, but not very clearly, it's gauzy and translucent. Then, the word 'prank' because the whole thing probably was a set-up or prank.

The two words referring to coverings allude to revealing the mystery gradually, but not completely. And, I think, Mina is cheered because she managed to pull off the prank and left everyone still puzzled and the whole thing unresolved. Was she or wasn't she? That's what I was left with when I finished the book.

(On the other hand, I may be completely off base here....)


Good catch on the snow, Charlotte. :cool:
You can't judge a book by its cover.

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Unread postby suec » Thu Feb 23, 2006 5:28 pm

Finch tells her earlier in the novel about how he thought squirrels were made from cats and dogs - cats and dogs fighting being like wives and husbands fighting. I thnk the squirrels are a veiled comment to the boy. Perhaps the sadness come from that, from looking back at the past. Perhaps the prank of snow refers also to their moment of passion, and the pleading to his pleading with her on that occasion?
The "cushions mystery with tulle" line reminds me of her costumes during the seances: "She had changed for the occasion into a loose tunic of many layers, the outer ones diaphanous". So, it also has that connotation for me.
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Unread postby Betty Sue » Thu Feb 23, 2006 6:19 pm

Been thinking about this today, and my answer is: ???????? :dunce: :dunce: :dunce:
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Thu Feb 23, 2006 7:22 pm

Betty Sue wrote:Been thinking about this today, and my answer is: ???????? :dunce: :dunce: :dunce:


I'm with you Betty Sue. I didn't understand what Mina was getting at either but I like the answers everyone is coming up with. This one really has me :perplexed:
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Unread postby SamIam » Thu Feb 23, 2006 10:45 pm

Liz wrote:
Gilbert's Girl wrote:well I didn't get that it was anything to do with death, and I have no idea why she needed cheering up but maybe it just reminded her of a pleasant time talking with him. But as to the lines I always get the feeling there was some other hidden meaning in those word. Prank, and snow and that snow covers something with mystery or the mystery.Maybe I'm off track.


I don't think you are off track. I was just typing this up while you were answering, GG:

During their conversation (pg. 75), Mina laughed at Martin, teasing him that squirrels were his answer to everything. I'm wondering if she is trying to send Martin a message.


This is what I think the lines mean:

The pleading of the Summer—
Martin’s persistent effort to pursue the truth.

That other Prank—of Snow—
She’s indicating it might have all been a trick or joke.

That cushions Mystery with Tulle,
Again she’s hinting that the truth was covered up with a thin veil. (Tulle is a thin netted fabric)

For fear the Squirrels—know.
And the squirrels know because they were in the eaves or attic.

Why she needs cheering up I still do not know.

I am inclined to agree with you Liz because I love Emily Dickinson. I have a whole book of poetry by her. She's fantastic. Anyhow, I think that the poem describes Finch and Mina's relationship. It reminded her of their affair and she was saddened I guess that she couldn't have him. That might be the only reason I guess.
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Unread postby Theresa » Fri Feb 24, 2006 1:19 am

I'm still not sure about the meaning behind the poem, but I can see why she would be wanting to remember a happier time. This was approximately ten years after the Scientific American investigation, so it had been that long since her husband had been confined to a wheelchair and unable to communicate. The spiritualist craze had died down, Walter was gone, and she was now claiming to be in communication with several other spirits.

It appeared that she even used her son, Chester to try and keep the public interested. On page 317, Finch writes “It would be in the pages of those periodicals that I would first catch a glimpse of six-year-old Chester, in a photograph accompanying an essay on how to recognize latent psychic ability in children.”

So it seems logical to me that remembering that time before the craving for fame, before her husband's illness, before Walter's leaving – well, that would seem to be a memory of a less complicated time to cheer her.

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Unread postby gilly » Sat Feb 25, 2006 12:56 am

To me ,the poem is about things just out of reach...hints of things,tinges of things that are tantalisingly close but unreachable, 'graspless' and maybe unexplainable..And I think that is what Mina means..She is sending Finch a message that some things just can't be explained........
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Unread postby Liz » Sat Feb 25, 2006 1:06 am

gilly wrote:To me ,the poem is about things just out of reach...hints of things,tinges of things that are tantalisingly close but unreachable, 'graspless' and maybe unexplainable..And I think that is what Mina means..She is sending Finch a message that some things just can't be explained........


Wow, Gilly! Good point. I have to agree. I can see it in these passages.

The Color too remote

The fine—impalpable Array

As if they just repressed
Some Secret—that was pushing

That cushions Mystery with Tulle

Their Graspless manners—mock us—
Until the Cheated Eye
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.


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