Tag Archives: Famous Poem

Emily Dickinson

Hi everyone, today’s post is about the American Poet Emily Dickinson. She was born on this day, one hundred and ninety years ago today. Emily was more renowned for her poetry after her death than when she was alive.

Early Life

Emily as a Child

Born Emily Elizabeth Dickinson, (December 10, 1830), to parents Edward Dickinson (politician), and Emily Norcross Dickinson (poet), in Amherst, Massachusetts, she was born into a literate and very respectable family. Emily is the second of three children, and she grew-up living a moderately privileged life with strong religious beliefs. For the first nine years of her life she lived in a mansion built by her paternal grandfather Samuel Fowler Dickinson who helped found the Amherst College, but then everything took a drastic turn and they went bankrupt shortly before her birth.

Her father Edward Dickinson was a forceful Whig lawyer and trustee of Amherst College, her mother Emily Norcross Dickinson was a former student of ‘Monson Academy’ and an introverted wife and hardworking housekeeper. Emily was named after her mother and lived with her parents and two siblings her elder brother William Austin Dickinson (known as Austin), and her younger sister, Lavinia Norcross Dickinson (known as Vinnie) at their homestead. Her parents were loving but stern, Emily didn’t get along with her parents but she did become very close to Austin and Vinnie.

 The family moved to Pleasant Street after the birth of Lavinia in order to accommodate for Edwards prospering political career as well as his legal career that provided a bigger house for his children, and to provide his children with a refined education. The education catered to Emily which was not one that was provided to girls during the Victorian age. She received a classical education that only the elite few could afford.

Emily and her siblings – L-R: Emily, William and Lavinia

Dickinson went to primary school in Amherst before she attended the co-educational Amherst Academy, where teachers and students alike saw her extraordinary abilities in composition. Along with being brilliant and observant. She showed a keen interest in the piano and domestic chores, especially in gardening, she also excelled in other subjects that was encouraged by the school, most notably Latin and sciences.

After having seven years at Amherst Academy (1840), she then went onto Mount Holyoke female seminary (1847). This was her first and longest time that she had spent away from her family. Emily made friends easily and acquired plenty of female friends as a young girl, some of them were Emily Fowler, Abby Wood, Jane Humphrey, Abiah Root, Susan Gilbert (who later went on to marry her brother William) and her cousin Sophia Holland. She also had a couple of male friends Benjamin Newton and Henry Vaughn Emmons. The only affection she had for them was purely platonic, nothing went beyond the boundaries of friendship.

There was a sudden turn of events, when Emily was hit by the sudden death of her beloved cousin Sophia Holland; she was so overwhelmed and shaken up by grief over the loss of Sophia that she was sent away to Boston to recover from the trauma. It was the death of Sophia that bought up many questions of death and mortality to a young Emily, and the fact that her garden at the back of the house was opposite the cemetery, which added to her morbid fascination with death. It was presumed that it was the loss of her loved ones that inflicted her with the most pain and which she would later sit down and pen several poems.

Emily’s House/Museum

Facts:

  • Her Father was a Senate for the United States.
  • The Dickinson family were devout Calvinists.
  • Emily Dickinson’s passion in her early years was botany, and it was because of her love of plants that she wanted to know the science of plant life.
  • The sisters never married and remained at home, there brother who was the only one that married, moved into the house next door with his wife.
  • Benjamin Franklin Newton, a student of her fathers, and had tutored her, introduce her to the works of William Wordsworth and Ralph Waldo Emerson.
  • Emily wrote a letter to her brother expressing on her growing interest and desire to write. She also wrote telling him on how different she felt.
  • Between the years of 1858 to 1865 saw her work take a steady leap, she based her writings on a few themes, such as nature and flora: some ballads, gospel, death and mortality
  • Her family moved back to the homestead, where her brother married Susan and had three children.
  • From an early age Emily Dickinson chose to restrict her social engagements as she retreated from society and became a recluse. In her late twenties she chose to stay within her family home for the vast majority of the time instead of venturing out into the world around her. She rarely travelled and based her perceptions of her friends on their ability to write a letter back to her.
  • Emily had wrote 1,000 poems by the time she was 35, which she categorized into manuscripts, and around 50 poems were sent to the chief editor of ‘Springfield Republican Samuel Bowles, which he published only a few anonymously in his journal.
  • Only 10 poems were actually published in her lifetime. The poems that were published during her lifetime were mainly done so anonymously or without her consent.
  • Emily Dickinson’s work was mostly published after her death.  Her sister Lavinia retrieved the bulk of her works when the poet had died. On per Emily’s request Lavinia burnt most of her letters but she recognized the worth of her poems and rather than burn them she wanted the world to recognize and applaud her sister’s works.
  • Dickinson’s health began to deteriorate after the untimely death of her youngest nephew in 1883. She became extremely fragile and became bedridden, but even during her illness she would continue to write.
  • Aged just 55, on May 15, 1886, Emily died of a kidney disorder called ‘Bright’s Disease’. As per her last wish, she was carried through a blooming field of buttercups to her burial site, where her coffin was laid in the family cemetery.
  • Emily’s herbarium, consists of 66 pages of special plant species from her garden is now preserved at Harvard University. The special collections of Amherst College also contains the original portrait and locks of the great poet.
  • Because of the wide heritage that stood in the ‘Homestead’ especially contributing to the proliferous work of Emily Dickinson, the mansion has now been preserved as a museum.
  • The ‘Amherst College’ also purchased the house of William and Susan Dickinson, called ‘Evergreens’ and converted it into a museum open to tours and renamed it the ‘Emily Dickinson Museum’.

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

Thankyou for taking the time to read my blog. See you all next week.

Library Lovers Month

Hi everyone, there is only a matter of days until the end of February and I didn’t want it to come to an end without celebrating library lovers month. I thought I would share with you a poem by Julia Donaldson

My Library

Everyone is welcome to walk through the door,
It really doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor.
There are books in boxes and books on shelves,
They’re free for you to borrow, so help yourselves.

Come and meet your heroes, old and new,
From William the Conqueror to Winnie the Pooh.
You can look into the mirror or read the times,
Or bring along a toddler to chant some rhymes.

The librarians a friend who loves to lend,
So see if there’s a book that she can recommend.
Read that book and if you’re bitten,
You can borrow all the other ones the author’s written.

Are you into battles or biography?
Are you keen on gerbils or geography?
Gardening or ghosts? Sharks or science fiction?
There’s something here for everyone whatever your addiction.

There are students revising, deep in concentration,
And school kids doing projects, finding inspiration.
Over in the corner there’s a table with seating,
So come along and join in the book club meeting.

Yes come to the library! Browse and borrow,
And help make sure it’ll still be here tomorrow.

By Julia Donaldson

The Raven

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore–
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“‘Tis some visiter,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door–
Only this and nothing more.”

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;–vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow–sorrow for the lost Lenore–
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore–
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me–filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
“‘Tis some visiter entreating entrance at my chamber door–
Some late visiter entreating entrance at my chamber door;–
This it is and nothing more.”

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you”–here I opened wide the door;–
Darkness there and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore?”
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!”–
Merely this and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
“Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore–
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;–
‘Tis the wind and nothing more!”

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door–
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door–
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore–
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning–little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door–
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as “Nevermore.”

But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing farther then he uttered–not a feather then he fluttered–
Till I scarcely more than muttered “Other friends have flown before–
On the morrow he will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before.”
Then the bird said “Nevermore.”

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore–
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
Of ‘Never–nevermore’.”

But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore–
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o’er,
But whose velvet-violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
“Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee–by these angels he hath sent thee
Respite–respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore;
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!–prophet still, if bird or devil!–
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted–
On this home by Horror haunted–tell me truly, I implore–
Is there–is there balm in Gilead?–tell me–tell me, I implore!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!–prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us–by that God we both adore–
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore–
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

“Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting–
“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken!–quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted–nevermore!

By Edgar Allan Poe

Alone

From childhood’s hour I have not been
As others were; I have not seen
As others saw; I could not bring
My passions from a common spring.
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow; I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone;
And all I loved, I loved alone.
Then in my childhood, in the dawn
Of a most stormy life was drawn
From every depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still:
From the torrent, or the fountain,
From the red cliff of the mountain,
From the sun that round me rolled
In its autumn tint of gold,
From the lightning in the sky
As it passed me flying by,
From the thunder and the storm,
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view.

By Edgar Allan Poe