“If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can warm me I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry. These are the only way I know it. Is there any other way?”
~ Emily Dickinson
Certainly the above quote does not sound of a voice without knowledge, or knowing, or … a life worth living beyond her open window. Yet, when Emily Dickinson is discussed the dialogue circles round to her “small life”. I question, though, was Dickinson’s life that much smaller than one’s own?
An article today entertained this small life. As it was read under the canopy of trees while hearing the occasional whirl of a cyclist going by, I could not help but again wonder why this poet carries such a mystique, albeit a rather unflattering one.
“How do we understand the work of a person who chose not to live in the world the way most of us do?”
Posits the author of the Boston Review article regarding Dickinson’s place in the world – a world that, at the time, was still dominated by the patriarch. A time when society did not oft consider a woman as equal despite those occasional rebels who were trying to pave new roads. Was Dickinson really living that odd of a life for the times? Yes, she was a spinster and did not venture from Amherst, but does that mean that there was some mental hiccup. Frankly, perhaps she was an introvert gone a bit extreme.
Sadly, this post is not going where I wished it to go — too much on the mind, too little time to compose before another bell will chime of morning. Perhaps I was hoping that by vocalizing what swirled around my head this afternoon, there would be an epiphany. As a non-scholar of poetry or criticism, in the end this just ends as a rant. A vocalization against the often dramatic criticism or conjecture about a woman who honored a guilty pleasure – penning her observations, her feelings and her intellectual knowledge with results that place her in our awe. An awe that turns to something else… an inability to just let a person “be”.
Perhaps writing this did help to cement one thing – the importance of being a “citizen of the world”. Emily was certainly a citizen of the world, for despite her “small life,” she always imagined the possibilities. ~