Saturday, September 6, 2014

Literary Site: Emily Dickinson Homestead - Amherst, MA

Emily Dickinson Homestead & Grave
Amherst, MA

GPS: N42° 22.555;  W072° 30.873

Short Description: 

The house where Emily Dickinson was born, lived all her life, wrote her poems, and died is located at 280 Main Street in Amherst, MA

Long Description:

Emily Elizabeth Dickinson (1830-1886) lived in this house in Amherst all her life. She was born into a prominent Massachusetts family. Her father was a lawyer and her grandfather was one of the founders of Amherst Academy and Amherst College. Emily attended Amherst Academy and entered nearby Mount Holyoke College Female Seminary for one year. In her thirties she became very reclusive and spent most her her time in her bedroom writing poetry. Nonetheless, she was well informed by virtue of the family subscriptions to literary journals and her own correspondence.

Emily Dickinson began writing poetry in her early twenties and and was very prolific by the time she was thirty. She eventually wrote 1800 poems. Her poems were stories in meter and rhyme drawn from everyday life. They were noted for their insight into human nature, concise style, brilliant imagery, and use of varied meter and irregular rhymes. The first book of her poetry was published in 1890, four years after her death. Publication was through the efforts of her sister Lavinia and editors Thomas Wentworth Higginson and Mabel Loomis Todd. Emily Dickinson is among the most read, admired, and loved poets in the world of literature.

In 1963, the Home of Emily Dickinson was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

GPS: N42° 22.746; W072° 31.074

Emily Dickinson is buried only few hundred meters away from her home in North Amherst Cemetery.

Her most appropriate poem on the subject of death - a classic example of her wisdom and style.

"Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality. 
We slowly drove, he knew no haste, 
And I had put away
My labor, and my leisure too,
For his civility.

We passed the school, where children strove
At recess, in the ring;
We passed the fields of gazing grain,
We passed the setting sun.

Or rather, he passed us;
The dews grew quivering and chill,
For only gossamer my gown,
My tippet only tulle.

We paused before a house that seemed
A swelling of the ground;
The roof was scarcely visible,
The cornice but a mound.

Since then 'tis centuries, and yet each
Feels shorter than the day
I first surmised the horses' heads
Were toward eternity."

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