Sunday, May 15

IN MEMORY OF EMILY DICKINSON

As I have explained previously, the name of my blog is taken from a poem by the wonderful New England poet, Emily Dickinson. A CERTAIN SLANT OF LIGHT was written in 1861 and is widely regarded as among her most popular and well-crafted works.

Emily Dickinson died on this date in 1886, at the age of 56, from complications of Bright's disease -- a serious kidney disorder.

Only seven of Miss Dickinson's poems were published in her lifetime. Acclaim for her large body of work did not come until long after she was gone and for a reason. Following her death, her sister Lavinia found nearly two thousand of Emily's poems in a desk drawer, bundled in small packets with string, many of them written on scraps of paper or even on the backs of grocery lists (according to Rachel Wetzsteon in her "Introduction" to "The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson," published by Barnes & Noble Books, 2003).

Imagine that!

I just completed reading the above-referenced collection this past week. It was a joy for me to get to know her better. Let me share one of her poems with you, if I may, in memory of her passing on May 15, 1886.

If you were coming in the fall,
I'd brush the summer by
With half a smile and half a spurn,
As housewives do a fly.

If I could see you in a year,
Id wind the months in balls,
And put them each in separate drawers,
Until their time befalls.

If only centuries delayed,
I'd count them on my hand,
Subtracting till my fingers dropped
Into Van Diemen's land.

If certain, when this life was out,
That yours and mine should be,
I'd toss it yonder like a rind,
And taste eternity.

But now, all ignorant of the length
Of time's uncertain wing,
It goads me, like the goblin bee,
That will not state its sting.