Cornell and Dickenson are both in the end unknowable. They live within the riddle, as Dickenson would say. Their biographies explain nothing. They are without precedent, eccentric, original, and thoroughly American. If her poems are like his boxes, a place where secrets are kept, his boxes are like her poems, the place of unlikely things coming together.
They both worry about their soul's salvation. Voyagers and explorers of their own solitudes, they make them vast, make them cosmic. They are religious artists in a world in which old metaphysics and aesthetic ideas were eclipsed. To read her poems, to look at his boxes, is to begin to think in a new way about American literature and art.
from Dime-Store Alchemy; the art of Joseph Cornell by Charles Simic, NYRB, 1992.
This adorable book is a pleasure to hold in the hand! 7.25" x 5" and bound in midnight blue cloth lettered in silver and with a Cornell image applied to the front cover it the perfect size and shape for this group of appreciations and quotations from Joseph Cornell's notes by the poet Charles Simic. I'm in love! But it is only fair to admit that I was a beeg fan of the work of both men before I ever saw this volume. It would be the perfect gift for that quirky, discerning friend.