Tuesday, May 11, 2010

To Dwell in Possibility

The Emily Dickinson show at The New York Botanical Garden (picture above) brings to mind how devoted I was to Emily's poetry once upon a time. Like all passions, this one has faded a bit over the years. Now, I have a chance to renew an acquaintance with an old friend whose line about dwelling in possibility was my mantra for a long time. Lately, I have blended it with a spoonful of reality.

No, I have not become a cynic. I guess that is just not in my DNA. But when a few hopes and dreams hit a bumpy patch, don't we all step back a bit? For dear Emily, her possibility seems to have been in her garden and her garden of verse. "This is my letter to the world," writes Emily Dickinson, "who never wrote to me." And so, Emily Dickinson created her own world.

It might be considered either brave or cowardly when considering Emily's choices. She was a recluse from that world that wasn't communicating with her. But in her mind she explored places in the heart and left paths for us to follow and to help us understand our own way.

Do visit her garden at The Botantical Garden and the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst, MA (picture below). And delight in the Julie Harris performance of The Belle of Amherst available on DVD--a masterpiece. Does Emily have a place in your thoughts?


  1. What a complex and interesting woman Emily Dickinson must have been. I can't help but wonder how medical treatments today may have played upon her short life - or if we would have all her poetry today if she had been treated in some way. It is what it is and oh how I would love to see this exhibit. Thank you for the post.

    There is a charming childrens' book by Jane Yolen entitled My Uncle Emily, which is about her and her nephew, a secret he holds, and her poem to him. The illustrations are delightful and it is a delightful way to introduce children to her poetry.

  2. I like to compare Emily with Beatrix Potter, who had a similarily constrained life, but whose personality seemed to be much more outwardly focused. Perhaps if Emily had been more outgoing, those poems never would have come to be, as they are VERY modern and would no doubt have been mocked, scorned or "challenged" had they been made public. She's an enigma, isn't she? Thanks for this post, I truly enjoyed it and the thoughts it provoked.
    Love, Karen Marline

  3. Emily definitely has a place in my thoughts. I live fairly close to her Amherst home and loved the tour of her house. I loved seeing the bedroom and window from which she lowered her basket of goodies for the neighborhood children. Sometimes her writing was a bit melancholy...then I discovered that, as a child, she looked out the window at many funeral processions passing enroute to the cemetery! Quite a fascinating place to visit. Maybe I'll do a post on it soon on my own blog. Thanks for the memory of Emily, Nancy. Sincerely, Susan

  4. I loved the Emily Dickinson quote that you included in Victoria's Guide to Gracious Living which said, "Between My Country and the Others/ There is a Sea/ But Flowers negotiate between us/ As ministry." Truer words were never penned. There is nothing like the sight of a rose or the scent of wysteria to pull my soul out of the doldrums. And when there is seemingly no common ground to be had between myself and someone else, flowers always seem to be able to bridge that gap. Lovely links you included for us.


  5. I wrote a very silly rhyming poem in sixth grade about hot cocoa. A fuss was made over it and one teacher compared me to Emily. Looking back I have no earthly idea why. Since then I have always had a collection of her poems but to be honest, I have not read a great many of them. I know however that she wrote some phrases rich with meaning beyond cursory comprehension and when I run across them I tell myself, "I really must read more of where that came from!"