Monday, May 19, 2008

Quiet as the Dew

Emily Dickinson

She went as quiet as the dew
From a familiar flower.
Not like the dew did she return
At the accustomed hour….

It seems appropriate on the anniversary of Emily Dickinson’s funeral, held on this day in 1886, that I devote some brief comments in her memory. Having lived more than fifty-five years with hundreds of poems to her name, many on the subject of death, her life ended. The funeral went according to her wishes: a robe of white flannel, only a few of her closest friends and family attending the home service, the white casket taken by six of the family's Irish men servants out the back door, through the barn and across the fields to the family plot. At the service, Thomas Wentworth Higginson read one of Dickinson’s favorite poems, Emily Brontë’s "No Coward Soul is Mine"; sister Vinnie put a bunch of violets, two heliotropes and a pink orchid in the casket, for Emily "to take to Judge Lord." The famous "Called Back" epitaph on Dickinson’s second, current tombstone was chosen by niece Martha Dickinson Bianchi; Dickinson had enjoyed Hugh Conway’s popular novel Called Back, published a few years earlier, and she had used the phrase in her last letter. A writer to the end, we now continue to enjoy her poetic immortality.

And another ...

There is no frigate like a bookTo take us lands away,Nor any coursers like a pageOf prancing poetry.his traverse may the poorest take
without oppress of toll;
How frugal is the chariotThat bears a human soul!

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