Thursday, April 24, 2008

National Poetry Month

The Emily Dickinson Museum

Today I headed south to Amherst, Massachusetts to visit the Emily Dickinson Museum. I've lived in Western Mass for forty years and this was my first visit.

I parked on Main Street and walked down to the Dickinson compound. On my way, I stopped at a park with beautiful flowering trees, flowers and benches.

Across the street from the park is The First Congregational Church (below). It's a gorgeous stone church which Emily's brother, Austin helped to found. Emily dickinson, I learned later, was never to step foot inside it. Calvanism wasn't her thing. She had a difficult time accepting the idea of original sin. Her religion was the natural world and the ecstacy of living.

Some keep the Sabbath going to church; I keep it staying at home,And an orchard for a dome.
~ Emily Dickinson

When I first arrived, I went inside to get my ticket for the 2:00 p.m. tour and then went around to the back of the main house and out to the garden to eat my lunch. I bought a small baguette, an orange and a bottle of water at the deli up the street.

I learned later from our tour guide that Emily Dickinson, though a recluse later in her life, was not a stranger to her family. She was very close to her father, though from her letters it is theorized that Emily's relationship with her mother was chilly and strained. She adored her brother Austin and sister Lavinia and forged a strong friendship with Austin's wife Susan.

This beautiful old tree is to the left of the house as you come up the path from the garden. Though a recluse, Emily didn't stay in the house all day and write poetry. She kept quite busy in the garden, tending the animals and baking. She was known to adore her brother Austin's three children and spent a great deal of time with them.

The main house. We toured Austin Dickinson's house next door as well but I can't manage to upload another photo, as blogger is not working again for me today.

Tulips in the garden.

The experience was two hours well spent. Of course, I'm a bit of a geek about these kinds of things so I had a great time.

If you visit the area and you're into Emily Dickinson, histori places or other components of geeky tourism, I recommend you visit.

Find ecstasy in life; the mere sense of living is joy enough. ~ Emily Dickinson


  1. I fell in love with Emily Dickison's poetry when I was in junior high. For years afterward, I wanted to be a poet just because she inspired me so. But I have to admit I did have the idea that she was a loner as well as an eccentric and I have to say that for some reason thinking of her that way appealed to me.

  2. I'm very envious! I would absolutely love to see that house. I adore Emily and have always wanted to give her a big hug around her white apron (hope that doesn't sound too's not meant to be...just to say thanks!).


  3. it isn't geeky to enjoy beauty- and dickinson's poetry and home are lovely. :)

  4. Some quick responses before I leave for Boston:

    Aaaaaah, Bear. It would be just like you to want to hug Emily - makes perfect sense to me! She was lucky - her family allowed her to be herself. Her father was quite indulgent of his children, apparently.

    Upstairs in the house, outside Emily's bedroom, there is a reproduction of her favorite white dress in a case. It cost $5,000 to reproduce that dress, so intricate was the handiwork.

    Lib: She was a loner outside of her family. Emerson once visited her brother's house but Emily chose not to meet him. And she was an eccentric for sure and quite possibly half-cracked, and what a beautiful mind!!

    Betmo: If beauty is geeky, I'm all over it!

    Peace to you my friends. As always you made my day.

  5. Beautiful photos. And I do love the quotes. I've always loved her poetry. No, it is not geeky to enjoy these things. It is just being enthused about life.

    Enjoy Boston.

  6. To be able to compose as well as her would be quite nice. One more place to visit if I ever get to Massachusetts!

  7. If you haven't read An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England, you should pick it up this weekend.

    p.s. Landed here thanks to DCup's link.

  8. I felt a funeral in my brain is my absolute favorite poem ever written. It is bottomless, and it is outright proof of her enlightenment.

  9. Well, half a century plus in these parts, and I've not been. Pity.

    But I'm thrilled that you finally went, and glad to hear that it was engaging!

    I'm sure you've heard about the trials and tribulations of The Mount in Lenox, where Edith Wharton's earthly legacy is in receivership. That's another place we lived right next to and never visited.

    I have to admit to being at least a bit slow on the uptake in those days.

    Thanks for the Virtual Tour, and your photos were beautiful!

  10. What an incredible experience. I made you my mystery post link because I never know what kind of lovely thing I'm going to find when I click my "Pagan Sphinx" link. The sphinx is the guardian of mysteries, after all, isn't she?

    I, too, am glad you shared your trip with us.

  11. DCup: Yes, The Sphinx was the guardian of mysteries but here you don't have to worry that you'll be slaughtered if you don't get it.

    Thanks for the link. I was way tired from my trip to Boston and I must have forgotten I'm The Pagan Sphinx. lol

  12. Randal Graves, Beth and 99:

    Thank you all for stopping by and enjoying a bit of Emily with me.

    To All: If any of you are ever in Western Mass, please email me. I'd love to show you around, time willin'. There is so much here for fans of the arts, with a distincly different flavor to that of the BIG CITY.

    Namaste, my friends

  13. CR: Sorry I overlooked your comment. Is that Edith Wharton thing still raging over there in Lenox? I'll have to look into that.

  14. Meanwhile, congratulations for the post, is great and personally I love deeply the most high lyricism of Emily Dickinson.
    In all the years I studied poetry I've never read anything like her.
    One last thing, can you tell me what kind of tree is the large one in the picture, please?

    -Andrea, Italy


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