Tuesday, November 7th, 2017...1:11 amNoah Fusco

Esther Popel Shaw: Two Details

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Two details stuck out at me from the Esther Popel Shaw documents we looked at on Friday.

The first, was that in her diary, she had a number of phrases in German. Nothing particularly remarkable, nothing brilliant said, simply phrases written in German rather than in English (which made sense in light of her language studies at Dickinson some years later).

I think this stood out to me because it was remarkably “real”, which is to say it did not feel like the artificial image of American history we are presented, which is monolingual among many things, but felt like an organic outspring of a real person who lived and spoke and knew other languages. It felt spontaneous, as opposed to constructed.

The second detail came from reading her poetry, among which one poem, the title I cannot remember, which spoke of needing to bring oneself relief. Aside from its lovely, delicate craft, the essence of the poem, which read to me as being from one remarkably downtrodden and weary, struck me straight in the heart, and felt remarkably akin to feelings I’ve had for quite a while now. It seemed to stretch across the span of time between herself and I, and close it with remarkable ease and succinctness.

1 Comment

  •   Professor Seiler
    November 14th, 2017 at 1:14 am

    Noah–these are lovely, specific observations about EPS’s language (in the fullest sense)–the sense one get of her through her work in languages… Was it the bringing oneself relief through words or the feeling of needing that relief that struck you?

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