— Emily Dickinson
Happy birthday Belle of Amherst, Emily Dickinson, born in Amherst, Massachusetts, on this date in 1830.
I think she might be better known to most people (since most people don’t read poetry) as someone who “spent most of her adult life in her corner bedroom in her father’s house.”
She eventually wrote more than 1,700 poems. In the year 1862 alone, she wrote 366 poems — about one per day. As she became more passionate about writing poetry, she went out less and devoted her life to her verses.
Over the years, scholars have come up with a lot of theories for her growing reclusiveness. Some believe it was because she was nursing a mysteriously broken heart, others think she was a closeted lesbian, and still others think she suffered from Seasonal Affective Disorder. One biographer speculates that she may have suffered from epilepsy.
Emily Dickinson’s Bible - a
The Bible is an antique Volume —
Written by faded men
At the suggestion of Holy Spectres —
Subjects — Bethlehem —
Eden — the ancient Homestead —
Satan — the Brigadier —
Judas — the Great Defaulter —
David — the Troubador —
Sin — a distinguished Precipice
Others must resist —
Boys that ”believe” are very lonesome —
Other Boys are ”lost” —
Had but the Tale a warbling Teller —
All the Boys would come —
Orpheus’ Sermon captivated —
It did not condemn —
Emily loved science, and lived in an age of Darwin. But she also lived in a religious community and was part of a religious family. Evangelical revivals swept through New England while Emily was a teen, and her friends and relatives professed their beliefs.
Not so Emily, she loved the world too much:
“I feel that the world holds a predominant place in my affections. I do not feel that I could give up all for Christ, were I called to die”
By her mid-thirties, Emily has stopped attending services altogether:
“Some keep the Sabbath going to church / I keep it staying at home.”
Yet many of her poems and letters expressed spirituality, and her relationship with God and with religion remained complicated all her life.
(Though I fear my nights are becoming about as wild as Emily’s were…)