Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Visiting Emily

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I arrived in Amherst today and immediately went to Emily Dickinson's grave.  It's easy to find the graveyard, but nowhere, apparently, are there directions for how to find the grave itself.  So here's the trick:  The Dickinson family is the only one surrounded by a wrought-iron fence.  Once you know that, locating the grave is simplicity itself.

Dickinson -- or, rather, our imagined image of her -- exists right at the nexus of text and biography.  Half of the interest in her derives from her poems, which are intense, compact, and unlike anybody else's.  The other half comes from her having lived an enigmatic life, into which can be read pretty much anything your predispositions dictate.

How you divide up your interest in her (if interest you have) depends entirely on what you value.  Me, I judge writers by what they write.  Which is why I'm here to pay my respects.

God bless ya, Emmy.  Sleep in peace.


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4 comments:

Lawrence Person said...

Did you sing any of them to the tune of "The Yellow Rose of Texas" while you Visited?

Mark said...

I know - Connie Willis' "The Soul Selects Her Own Society: Invasion and Repulsion: A Chronological Reinterpretation of Two of Emily Dickinson's Poems: A Wellsian Perspective" ruined Emily's poems for me. And Jane Yolen's noble effort of rebuttal in "Sister Emily's Lightship" failed to repair our new Grandmaster's destruction of Rev. Dickinson's daughter's poetry.

Bruce said...

There's a fine story by Neal Barrett Jr. featuring the Belle of Amherst and Joe "Liver-Eating" Johnson. Quite twisted and most excellent...I do believe it could be found in one of G. Dozois's BSF tomes.

Michael Swanwick said...

Pretty clearly, there's enough material out there for Gardner Dozois and Jack Dann to put out an anthology. Emilies of Wonder maybe, or Magemilies!

Featuring, incidentally, a story by GRAND MASTER Connie Willis. That oughta make for a great blurb.