For it was in high-school a really sensitive, introverted teen-age girl was introduced to Emily Dickinson and her world. My teacher, Mr. Versace, knew I was about to be kicked out of school for truancy and had no support of any type at home. I had no idea who Emily Dickinson was even though my mother was incredibly literate and well-read. It turned out that Ms. Dickinson saved me from hating myself completely and giving up on all grown-ups.
Emily (I don’t think she would mind if I referred to her using her first name) was born in the early 1830s to an upper-class family in New England; who expected great things from Emily because of her intelligence and the many years she spends at prestigious schools. However, Emily choose her own route in life and didn’t become the esteemed success her family expected.
THIS is my letter to the world, That never wrote to me,— The simple news that Nature told, With tender majesty. Her message is committed To hands I cannot see; For love of her, sweet countrymen, Judge tenderly of me!
The locals were quite bothered by her as she refused to greet any company visiting or attend any social event. No, she chose to stay home, safely in her bedroom, and write poetry. Personally, I can relate! When she did make an appearance she only wore white clothing. When people had the chance to read her poetry they were even more off-struck by her. Her poems had no discernible rhythm, they usually didn’t have any titles and she loved to write about death and immortality. She lived all her life in her bedroom really and her relationships took place by letter correspondences. Today, maybe she wouldn’t have been considered so “odd”.
I mean Vampires are really in style now, so Emily’s favorite themes of death and dying would be very much in vogue. And I know many introverts who choose not to be a social butterfly and can form intimate friendships over the internet; <Clearing throat and not mentioning any names, like myself perhaps>. As an adolescent who hated most of the world; I drew a big sigh of comfort after first becoming familiar with Emily’s work; because I recognized a kindred spirit. I loved the off-rhythms and I understood perfectly the metaphors that she used to make everyone aware of her feelings.
Mr. Versace was really insightful in giving me some of Emily’s work to read. I still listened to punk music but when I started wearing white a la Emily, I began to feel cleaner somehow, a blank slate that wasn’t scribbled on by my mothers rage and cruelty against me.
Emily and her work are either really well-loved or people can’t stand them. There’s no in-between for her. I like that about her. I avoid people who are always “nice-nice” and are people pleasing all the time. When I read Emily, I’m reminded that intelligence, creativity and beauty doesn’t always come in the most colorful or loud package. Somehow, I think there’s a lot of you who could relate to Emily and her work. If you haven’t read her poems or anything about her life and are interested, there’s plenty of wonderful material available. I hope I’ve introduced you properly to my friend Emily. She’s a little shy you see…
This post is for “ABC Wednesdays” which I find most Excellent! Hope to see you there.