In Praise of Miss Emily

I am fortunate to live in an area of the world that is rich with writers, especially poets. Many of their homes are now national landmarks and/or museums. I have traveled to several of these illustrious, yet humble, places over the years.

Robert Frost's farm
in Derry, NH is a typical Yankee farm. It is in the simplicity of being present there that Frost wrote many of his most famous poems.

Writer, Louisa May Alcott's home is open to the public. Not far from the center of town in Concord, MA, it offers guided tours by docents portraying Louisa May, herself!

There are other wonderful sites throughout New England. You can read about several in the Boston area on this site: Historic Homes. I highly recommend taking the time to stop and visit, especially if you have young aspiring writers with you. Seeing how the writers of the past lived, without the modern conveniences we have, is an eye-opener to the young. Being in the actual homes of other writers, for me, brings them into perspective. You realize quite quickly, that they were simply other humans struggling along life's path exactly as we are doing now. In some ways, their struggle was greater. Yet, they left behind such a legacy!

Several homes in Connecticut offer programs as well as tours: The Eugene O'Neill home and Harriet Beecher Stowe's home. In addition, back up in New Hampshire, The Frost Place in Franconia offers workshops and conferences for writers and teachers.

However, my favorite place to visit is the home and gardens of Miss Emily Dickinson. Her poems were stepping-stones from childhood into adolescence. I have seldom been without a book of her poems nearby since I was quite young. The fact that I live not more than a fifteen minute drive to her home simply makes our relationship all the sweeter. We are like old friends who have shared each other's secrets for quite a long time.

Roger reading at the poetry marathon

Over the past six years, I have had the most splendid opportunity to participate in the annual poetry marathon at the Dickinson Homestead.

Magic Moment in Miss Emily's Garden

Readers come and read all of Miss Emily's poems from early morn to late at night. People come to listen; readers come and go. It is a lovely time of community for all those who love the workings of words strung together to create and re-create magical moments of time and space.

After one such reading, inspired, I returned home and wrote the following:

In Praise Of Miss Emily

Reflecting on my sister/poet...
The Belle of Amherst

Contemplative collaborator cloistered
High in the tower of self

Prolific writer born out of sync
Her words echo off high thoughts

Tenacious daughter/sister
Closing her door to the father's world
Safe within the walls of her own imagination

Matters of the heart
Imprinted on pages of parchment
Testimony to tenacity...witness of loss

"Love--thou art high"

Her God...her Companion...
Not church bound deity
Her soul not property or chattel
Slave to no mind or will
Freely thinking, she touched the ethereal with her pen

Not "tinted" in life by what "Scholars leave"
Her verse lives on
Well read and memorized by those who
Seek to "clarify the sight"

Her pen painted pain
In shades of understanding--
Death deliberately discerned
"This is the Hour of Lead-"

Grasping each word
Digging for meaning...felt or perceived
Until "dwelling in Possibility"

I "recollect the Snow--
First -- Chill -- then Stupor -- then the letting go --"

Linda M. Rhinehart Neas
© 2005


Writers and Poets should check out the Poem-a-day challenge. This is an excellent opportunity to practice writing using prompts. No expertise needed. Simply check in, read the prompt, and write what comes to your mind. Some of the entries have been amazing! We are only on day 4, so there is still a great deal of opportunity to hone your skills.


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