Radiohead Lyric or Emily Dickinson Phrase?

A delightful post from BookRiot: Quiz: Radiohead Lyric or Emily Dickinson Phrase?

As it happens, Emily Dickinson is probably my favorite poet ever, so this was especially intriguing. Though I would not characterize Dickinson’s poetry as giving voice to “quiet despair” as does Christine Ro in this post, the challenge is still an immediate draw. Can one actually confuse Radiohead lyrics with Dickinson poetry? I am not that familiar with Radiohead, but let’s take a look at this quiz. There are only 15 lines presented; I’ll show them here — click through to see the answers.

the mongrel cat came home holding half a head

inebriate of air

the distant strains of triumph burst agonized and clear

broken hearts make it rain

i felt a funeral in my brain

tie me to the rotten deck

how dreary to be somebody

howling down the chimney

disappointed people clinging onto bottles

he bit an angle worm in halves

why so green and lonely

he talks in maths

the truth must dazzle gradually

get the flan in the face the flan in the face

nobody wants to be a slave

Are any of these at all difficult? A good many are lines from very well known Dickinson poems; putting them in surely makes this challenge less, er, challenging.

Things that Emily Dickinson never used in any poem (you can correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m not wrong): mongrel cats, rotten decks, bottles, flan, and slaves. I might not have thought she wrote the line about the worm, though, except I remember the poem clearly, so there’s that. Still. Flan? As if.

I bet I could find a group with lyrics that would be easier to mistake for Dickinson poems. How about Peter Gabriel?

wind was blowing, time stood still

if again the seas are silent

ten coaches roll into the dust

I used this website to look up Gabriel lyrics, btw; I recognize some of his songs, but I couldn’t have pulled lines out of my brain.

I maintain that any of those seem a lot more like Dickinson lines than anything ever written about flan by anybody.

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3 thoughts on “Radiohead Lyric or Emily Dickinson Phrase?”

  1. I’m not more than passingly familiar with either Radiohead or Emily Dickinson, and I still got most of them right. It’s the phrasing and the diction mostly, as you said.

  2. I love Thom and Emily equally so got these all right but can see some similarities. I love lyrics that have such depth and love Thom Yorke’s ability to twin this with really direct hooks (like broken hearts make it rain)

  3. Very often I really prefer music that blends into the background, such as Two Steps from Hell, so I can think about other things. But I do want to go listen to some Radiohead songs now, and pay more attention to the lyrics than I usually do.

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