Emily Dickinson: the poet who offers composers potentially limitless possibilities

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Philip Clark celebrates the American poet who was a kindred spirit of the composers she has inspired

As an intellectual loner, a disrupter of poetic convention, an instinctual progressive, a sensual philosopher, an obstinate believer in the validity and vitality of her own work, a transformer of small-town 19th-century America into impassionedly passionate poetic visions that – even to 21st-century eyes tuned into James Joyce, Gertrude Stein and EE Cummings – read like a jittery spillage of words ripped into by hollering silences, composers have long considered Emily Dickinson as one of their own.

When, in 1950, Aaron Copland was beginning his song-cycle Twelve Poems of Emily Dickinson, he visited the Dickinson homestead in Amherst, Massachusetts, where Dickinson lived out a peculiarly .....

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