Dickinson Emily 1830 - 1886 (56)

The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience.


Selected poems

Emily Elizabeth Dickinson (December 10, 1830 - May 15, 1886), was an American poet. Born in Amherst, a small town in Massachusetts, in 1830, her father was a strict Calvinist with legal studies at Yale University. He worked as a lawyer and for some years he was elected member of the House of Representatives and Congress. Her childhood was spent to school obligations, household duties, Sundays at church, reading books and taking piano and singing lessons. Emily had an excellent record as a student and began studying at the College of the Holly Oaks, but only for one year. She stopped abruptly and returned to her family estate, she lived there all her life, leaving only once in 1864, when she had to visit a doctor in Washington, because of her falling vision. From an early age she was writing lyrics that sent to family and friends without any thought or desire for extradition. In 1852, however, five of her poems about nature were published anonymously by a family friend publisher. Since then, Emily began to deal with poetry seriously, especially the period 1858-1865, during civil war between northern and southern, she wrote her most important works. At this time, her brother married her best friend and they went to live in the family estate. Emily befriended her brothers and the few family friends, was engaged in gardening and sometimes cooking and embroidery, but most of the time was alone in her room, the others didn’t have any idea what she was doing, she was considered eccentric and distant.

By her 35, she had written 1100 poems, most on makeshift papers, on receipts and invitations, behind recipes. Of those, she wrote clearly about 800 making her own handmade booklets. She didn’t show them to anybody. Her life is strictly personal and in solitary, she refused at least one marriage proposal, while the writing of this period reveals the existence of emotional tie with an unknown person, some people talk about a young pastor who passed and left quickly. Love will make its appearance again after years, in the form of a widower judge, a family friend; some of her letters indicate that she was thinking to marry him, in the end she did not decide to abandon her isolation. She continued to live in the microcosm of her room and the whirlpool of her poems. Her last years were marked by the death of her own. Her father died in 1874, her mother in 1875, her nephew in 1883 (at the age of 8 years old), her best friend in 1885. Emily from 1883 was ill and remained in poor condition until her death, in May 15, 1886. After the funeral, her sister opened a locked drawer and found a treasure of about 2000 poems; they were published in parts and sections from 1890 and up to our days, becoming a great publishing success and influencing the world of poetry. The dashed lines, the metaphysical symbolism, the anarchy in the flow of ideas, revealed an Emily who lived quietly and internally, but screaming in silence, writing about the life she didn’t live, in superlatives, with passion and joy, with expectations and despair, revealing people’s pains, dreams, hopes.