Thursday, May 30, 2013

Emily Dickinson & Carlo

"There is no Frigate like a Book
To take us Lands away
Nor any Coursers like a Page
Of prancing Poetry-
This Traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of Toll-
 How frugal is the Chariot 
That bears the Human Soul-"
-Emily Dickinson

This week I've been taking some time in the refreshing May evenings to read and revisit some of my favorite poetry.  As is always the case, I find Emily Dickinson's poetry best appreciated by candlelight giving it a true, simplistic 19th century air.  I have always been touched by Emily's deep friendship with her Newfoundland, Carlo.

Emily Dickinson has brought some of the most unique and beautiful poetry into the world.  We have many unclear depictions of her, and perhaps no one, besides her dog Carlo, will ever have a completely accurate picture of who she was.  Besides the fact that she was very eccentric, talented and somewhat misunderstood, what we do know is that she loved Carlo and was hardly ever seen without him.  

A Newfoundland

Emily and Carlo had a very strong bond, and Carlo was readily accepted into her family.  They were often seen walking together--an odd appearance because of his large size and her slight frame.  I have read that in correspondence with Thomas Higginson, Emily Dickinson said that often Carlo was the only audience for her poems.  At another time Higginson expressed that he hesitated to publish her poetry due to the unusual punctuation and unconventional rhymes, and she replied that she was more interested in pleasing Carlo with her writing than in writing for the public.  Emily also referred to Carlo as her "shaggy ally" and her "mute confederate".   

I started Early- Took my Dog-
And visited the Sea-
The Mermaids in the Basement 
Came out to look at me-

And Frigates- in the Upper Floor
Extended Hempen Hands-
Presuming Me to be a Mouse-
Aground-upon the Sands-

- an excerpt from a poem by
Emily Dickinson 

A page from Emily's Herbarium.

"Every bird that sings, and every bud that blooms, does but remind me more of that garden unseen, awaiting the hand that tills it."
-Emily Dickinson
from a letter to Susan Dickinson, 1852

Emily Dickinson was also a very passionate gardener, her love of plants began early in life.  At age 14, she started a herbarium (a book of pressed wildflower specimens each labeled with its Latin name); some of these pressed flowers were quite rare leading some to believe that she must have walked quite extensively in the surrounding woods and fields.

" I find ecstasy in living- the mere sense of living is joy enough." 
-Emily Dickinson

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