This is my letter to the World
That never wrote to Me—
The simple news that Nature told—
With tender Majesty
Her Message is committed
To Hands that I cannot see—
For love of Her—Sweet—countrymen
Judge tenderly—of Me
Yesterday I introduced myself to Emily Dickinson.
Today she became my best friend.
She seems an extraordinary woman! Emily always seemed very independent, and at forty she retired to the comfort of her house, rarely to be seen again. Sometimes she would take a secret path to her brother’s house, and the only other people whose company she enjoyed were children who played in her garden. Emily lowered gingerbread cookies and sweets for them, in a basket out of a window.Emily Dickinson was very elusive and dreamy. I think it can be judged from her gentle frame. She always wore white in her seclusion. Her reddish hair was worn in two smooth bands. Her face was described as plain, but I doubt she was “plain” and I find her visage rather charming.
I’m Nobody! Who are you?
Then there’s a pair of us!
Don’t tell! They’d banish us—you know!
How dreary—to be—Somebody!
How public—like a Frog—
To tell your name—the livelong June—
To an admiring Bog!
The more I read of Emily in the introduction, and the more I read of her poems—I wanted to know her more! Join in her solitude, read, and talk…
There is no Frigate like a Book
To take us Lands away
Nor any Coursers like a Page
Of prancing Poetry—
This Travel may the poorest take
Without offence of Toll—
How frugal is the Chariot
That bears the Human soul.
Emily Dickinson used a lot of unexplained dashes and capitalization in her poetry (her poems were discovered by her sister, after Emily’s death). I wish I knew why she chose to capitalize a specific word: some are obvious, but others are puzzling. Here is another of my favourites from Emily:
I never saw a Moor—
I never saw the Sea—
Yet I know how the Heather looks
And what a Billow be.
I never spoke with God
Nor visited in Heaven—
Yet certain am I of the spot
As if the Checks were given—
This poem holds a lot of meaning. It is when I read these, I stop and realize how much I like them! And how many thoughts eight lines can produce! Here is another:
This quiet Dust was Gentlemen and Ladies
And Lads and Girls—
Was laughter and ability and Sighing
And Frocks and Curls.
This Passive Place a Summer’s nimble mansion
Where Bloom and Bees
Exist an Oriental Circuit
Then cease, like these—
God and Death are two predominant themes in her writing. Emily wrote about nature, too, and she could understand it better than anybody. Her judgement was uncloded an only her own, because she lived alone and wrote alone—no other minds polluted hers. She did not take in the poison of the opinions and culture of the masses. Her existence was solitary, and thus Emily could cultivate her mind, not bothered by others.
I have read quite a lot of poetry this month, more than is usual for me. But no other poet left such an impression on me, as Emily Dickinson did. To conlcude with Rumer Godden’s words from the introduction: “She has been compared to Blake or Emily Bronte, but these were great poets; Emily Dickinson is not ‘great’, she is unique—and how few even of the great, are that?”