Monday, May 1, 2017

Dickinson Inspiratons

Emily Dickinson's daguerreotype, circa 1846

Visiting the homes of your favorite authors can be a grand adventure. Such adventures can bring a deeper understanding of your favorite characters, and their creators. You are literally (all puns intended) entering the world where they lived. Emily Dickinson's Museum “sparks the imagination by amplifying Emily Dickinson's revolutionary poetic voice from the place she called home." A tour of the house, and the enchanted gardens, celebrates the poet who has the “exceptional ability to distill “amazing sense” from “ordinary meanings.”

Bee! I’m expecting you!
Was saying Yesterday
To Somebody you know
That you were due—

The Frogs got Home last Week—
Are settled, and at work—
Birds, mostly back—
The Clover warm and thick—

You’ll get my Letter by
The seventeenth; Reply
Or better, be with me—
Yours, Fly.

While the poet composed almost 1800 poems, fewer than a dozen were published in her lifetime.

We dont have many jokes tho’ now, it is pretty much all sobriety, and we do not have much poetry, father having made up his mind that its pretty much all real life. Fathers real life and mine sometimes come into collision, but as yet, escape unhurt.”
Emily Dickinson to Austin Dickinson, December 15, 1851

No one knows why Emily didn’t publish more of her poetry. She once said that publication tends to be negative ("Publication is the auction of the mind"). However, she didn’t object when a few of her poems were included in newspapers, although they were published anonymously. As a young girl, Emily, enjoyed school, and had many friends. She even went to many social events. But as she grew older, she became more reclusive. No one knows why but some wonder if there was a medical condition that made her uncomfortable around people.

Emily's writing desk
Emily wrote about those topics (spirituality, nature, art) that interested her contemporaries, and the structure of her poems often imitates common meter used in religious and non-religious music. But her poems are regarded as more concise, less sentimental, and more layered than that of her contemporaries.

'Hope' is the thing with feathers—
That perches in the soul—
And sings the tune without the words—
And never stops—at all—

And sweetest—in the Gale—is heard—
And sore must be the storm—
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm—

I've heard it in the chillest land—
And on the strangest Sea—
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb—of Me.

Created in 2003, the Museum maintains collections of furnishings, decorative arts, paintings and prints, household wares, textiles, and toys. The Museum also has useful research material related to the history of the Homestead, The Evergreens, and the landscape. Although she had none of her own, Emily loved children most of all. MacGregor Jenkins knew Emily when he was a kid, and wrote:

I remember her as slight of stature, quick, graceful and animated in every movement ... [with] a mass of glorious auburn hair and a pair of lustrous [shining] eyes. . . . Her participations in our games, her stout defense of us in times of stress, her defiance of Maggie in raiding the pantry that we should be well-supplied with cookies or doughnuts, all these were the attributes of a very real and a very human friend and comrade . . . . We felt freer with her than with any other of the older generation in either family.

To the delight of MacGregor and his friends, Emily often lowered a basket filled with gingerbread out of her window for them to eat.

The Homestead, 1858 lithograph

Time does go on—
I tell it gay to those who suffer now—
They shall survive—
There is a sun—
They don’t believe it now—

What are your favorite Emily Dickinson poems?

By the way, do stop by JoAnn’s wonderful celebration of poetry and her poetry roundup.
Don’t forget to enter our Book Giveaway. To celebrate the TeachingAuthors’ 8th Blogiversary (hooray!), we’re giving away a copy of Author and Story Coach Lisa Cron’s Story GeniusSee Esther’s post for details.

Bobbi Miller


JoAnn Early Macken said...

Thanks, Bobbi! Your description made her feel like "a very real and a very human friend and comrade."

Yvonne Ventresca said...

I love the gingerbread anecdote!

Rebecca C said...

Sounds like my kind of place to visit! Thank you for bringing it (and some of her work) to my attention!

Anonymous said...

Love this post! I'm hoping to visit Emily's place this summer. Hard to narrow down, but I think this is one of her most popular poems:

I’m Nobody! Who are you?
Are you – Nobody – too?
Then there’s a pair of us!
Don’t tell! they’d advertise – you know!

How dreary – to be – Somebody!
How public – like a Frog –
To tell one’s name – the livelong June –
To an admiring Bog!

Bobbi Miller said...

Marcia: I LOVE that poem too. That is one of my favorites. It's hard to choose because they are all my favorites! You'll so enjoy this museum immensely!

Everyone, thank you for your kind words and for stopping by!

Carla Killough McClafferty said...

Great post!