to say if my Verse is alive?” wrote Emily Dickinson in 1862 to Thomas Higginson, the author and editor who would soon become her literary mentor. Today’s journey was primarily centered around this young poetess whose work (along with that of Walt Whitman) would launch the modern poetry movement.
Starting off in Amherst, we visited the Homestead, the site of the Emily Dickinson Museum, which was the first brick house in Amherst and also the place of her birth and death. In spite of her chronic illnesses, she produced an astounding amount of poetry (nearly 2,000 poems) known for its depth of emotion and unusual punctuation.
Amazingly, we had the same tour guide, Marianne, who led us through the house 3 years ago on a previous visit. Today’s visit was as instructive as before, when we learned that Emily’s white house dress, what she was known for wearing most of the time, was the modern-day equivalent of a sweatshirt and sweatpants. Jen was thrilled to hear this tidbit: “I live for things like this!” The tour also included a visit to The Evergreens, the house of her brother and sister-in-law. The later part of Emily’s life was marked by grief at the death of her beloved nephew, whose little suit is displayed in The Evergreens.
Marianne concluded our tour with a reading (This is My Letter to the World) in the garden, which was also dear to Emily. Here she spent many afternoons musing about nature accompanied by her Newfoundland Carlo.