Thursday, February 9, 2012

Emily Dickinson Comes to New York

The Emily Dickinson exhibit at the Poet's House in Battery Park has been extended from January 28th to February 18th. I now have a chance to get there before it leaves. I read a lot of Emily Dickinson in college, and was interested for a time in how her poetry was arranged into chapbooks after she died. In one class we studied the arrangements and determined collectively that the organization of the poetry in and of itself impacted the poetry's meaning significantly, so who knows what the heck she really meant?

Around that time, I went to visit her home in Amherst, and was struck by how tiny her bedroom was. In it was a glass case that housed one of her dresses; it hung, ghostly, on a headless mannequin form. From that, one could see how little she was, and up in that room I could imagine that it would become too hot in the summertime, and too cloistered, though after a point I believe this was self-imposed.

The exhibit at the Poet's House showcases "a recipe" (how mysterious!). I'm betting that it's her gingerbread, which she hoisted down to children in a basket from her upstairs window.

Here is my favorite ED piece, which was read by Stingo in the film of Styron's Sophie's Choice:

Ample make this Bed --
Make this Bed with Awe --
In it wait till Judgment break
Excellent and Fair.

Be its Mattress straight --
Be its Pillow round --
Let no Sunrise' yellow noise
Interrupt this Ground --

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