Friday, December 10, 2010

Happy Birthday, Emily Dickinson

December 10, 1830-May 15, 1886

Emily Dickinson was born in Amherst, Massachusetts at the Homestead on December 10, 1830. Her quiet life was infused with a creative energy that produced almost 1800 poems and a profusion of vibrant letters.
Her lively Childhood and Youth were filled with schooling, reading, explorations of nature, religious activities, significant friendships, and several key encounters with poetry. Her most intense Writing Years consumed the decade of her late 20s and early 30s; during that time she composed almost 1100 poems. She made few attempts to publish her work, choosing instead to share them privately with family and friends. In her Later Years Dickinson increasingly withdrew from public life. Her garden, her family (especially her brother’s family at The Evergreens) and close friends, and health concerns occupied her.
With a few exceptions, her poetry remained virtually unpublished until after she died on May 15, 1886. After her death, her poems and life story were brought to the attention of the wider world through the competing efforts of family members and intimates.

To learn more about this iconic American poet, visit the website of The Emily Dickinson Museum. I live very close to Amherst and stop in to visit the garden in spring and summer every year. Here is a photo I took of the summer garden this year. It is pretty much kept the way Emily once kept it.

As an aside, I once read an article about Emily Dickinson entitled Emily Dickinson:  The Pagan Sphinx and borrowed the name (with credit to the writer which can be found just below the blog header, under Pages About the Pagan Sphinx Blog.) which is my blog and blog moniker.  TPS will be three years old in February and it has never regretted its name.  :-)

Happy Friday,
Pagan Sphinx

Pagan Sphinx Photo 2010 © All Rights Reserved


  1. Oh wow, yes, happy birthday, Emily; 180 years old and as fresh and unconventional as ever!

  2. Oh wow! I echo that Happy Birthday! I so admire her poetry .... some of them 'rap' as 'uneager' students of mine discovered, became enraptured by - and learned them for their exam!! Rare success.

  3. I love her poetry. I'd really love to see her house. Thanks, for the pictures. Happy B'Day, Emily!

  4. she had a brilliant mind
    thanks for all the info about her

  5. Good morning PS. Great work on this Emily post. I know you are such a great fan. The gardens and phlox are beautiful. Thanks for keeping on keeping on as they said when we were a bit younger...
    For a completely different take on the birthday of our Emily stop by
    Love, ginger

  6. A very interesting post, and I see that you have chosen the name of your blog very wisely. May you both prosper along with your slogan.

  7. Under-appreciated and all but unknown in her lifetime, today she touches millions with her poetry.

  8. I wonder if the quiet, reserved and reclusive Ms. Dickinson would wonder about all of this adulation. She is my favorite poet, after all. Love your snaps!

  9. Very nice post. Many of us think of her as a spinster poet, but I read (or maybe heard on NPR) sometime in the past year that she might have had a torrid relationship with a friend of her father who was supposed to be her "guardian."

  10. Hi Gina,

    I was just involved in a tribute to Dickinson/birthday celebration for her. I read some of her poems and some of mine that were in conversation with hers more or less. A Dickinson scholar talked about her life and a local actress performed a scene from her one woman show "The Belle of Amherst." I really enjoyed preparing for and participating because it opened Miss D up to me in ways I had missed before. I am hot on the trail of more info now, so thanks for this addition.

  11. Melissa B - I often wonder that myself. Especially in the last couple of years with Jerome Charyn's book The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson receiving so much attention. I'm not sure how she would feel. Perhaps she would be happy to be recognized but I doubt she'd turn out for any events on her behalf. Thanks for commenting.

    Jack - yes, it's been long believed that she was a deeply passionate woman. If not physically, in her heart and soul. As I mentioned above The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson by Jerome Charyn is a really good read that blows the spinster and demure theories out of the water! Highly recommended.

    Kitty - did you write about the event on your blog? I'd love to know more about it. Will check. When you move to western Mass you will have plenty of opportunities to delve into Emily. I hope your school search is going well. I thought of one more little school for Isaac and I'll drop you a line soon.

    Love to all,

  12. I met her poetry rather late in my own life and always found it hard to claim a favorite. I love the stories and pictures you've posted about Emily and her home today and previously.

    This is one I especially like:

    Hope is the thing with feathers
    That perches in the soul,
    And sings the tune without the words,
    And never stops at all,

    And sweetest in the gale is heard;
    And sore must be the storm
    That could abash the little bird
    That kept so many warm.

    I've heard it in the chilliest land
    And on the strangest sea;
    Yet, never, in extremity,
    It asked a crumb of me.

  13. 180 years old, and I'd say the old gal doesn't look a day over 120! ;)

    Can't believe I've never been there - I bet it would be like the Norman Rockwell Museum, which you dragged me to, and which I left weeping like a baby!


Thank you for taking the time to say you've been here.

I am sorry to say that I don't publish anonymous comments unless I know you through your initials, first name or blog name. I don't publish comments that have ANY kind of commercial or 'for sale' links.

You are Invited to Scroll Down! :-)

Please feel free to scroll down and look at the followers list, badges, photos and tons and tons of great links!

Search This Blog

In Memory of Bobbie

In Memory of Bobbie
Almost There

ARTLEX Art Dictionary

Kick Homophobia in The Butt: Add Your Name to the List of Supporters

Kick Homophobia in The Butt:  Add Your Name to the List of Supporters
click photo

Northampton Prop 8 Protest

Northampton Prop 8 Protest

It's Only Love

It's Only Love
See More Elopment Pictures here

Million Doors for Peace

Lines and Colors

Lines and Colors
A New Art Resource I Just Discovered!

Emily Dickinson - The Belle of Amherst

Emily Dickinson - The Belle of Amherst
"When the Amherst sphinx styled herself a pagan, she meant she didn’t believe in the biblical God. What sort of deity, if any, she did believe in is hard to pinpoint."
-- Gary Sloan, "Emily Dickinson: Pagan Sphinx,"

National Protest Against Prop 8

National Protest Against Prop 8

My Daughters

My Daughters

Code Pink

"The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice."
~Martin Luther King Jr.
Love and compassion is the Universal religion. That is my religion.
~ The Dalai Lama

Blog Archive

Fair Use

I believe that the images and writing posted here fall under the "fair use" section of the U.S. copyright law, as they are intended for educational purposes and are not in a medium that is of commercial nature.



Blog Widget by LinkWithin