The Grave of Emily Dickinson

Unlike Dr. Williams’ grave, Emily Dickinson‘s is well visited. On top of her stone are some pennies as well as a mug full of pens and pencils. At its base I found rain-soaked poetry books and papers as well as a little snow-globe half buried among the plantings. There’s even a mural featuring her adjacent to the cemetery.

But of the poets I’ll be visiting this trip, I’m least enthused by Miss Dickinson’s poetry. I appreciate that she anticipated the modern free-verse style in which I write and in my workshops I regularly advocate for the use of the Dickinson Dash and she’s got some great lines like: “Because I could not stop for Death– He kindly stopped for me–” and “‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers – That perches in the soul –“.

While reading more of her work in preparation for visiting her grave, I found two poems that I really enjoyed. She didn’t title her poetry (another way she was ahead of her time) so I’ll refer to them by their first lines. Tell all the truth but tell it slant is beautiful little description of how poetry does a better job expressing the Truth than prose. And Wild Nights— Wild Nights! frankly surprised me as being very un-Dickinsonian by being very sexy!

But what’s most impressive about Miss Dickinson is that she produced her poetry in near isolation. This is something I do NOT recommend. While writing poetry is a solitary activity, every poet needs a community, a group to share their poetry with and get honest feedback from. That is the best way to improve your art. There’s only one Emily Dickinson per generation, a poet who can produce masterpieces alone. The rest of us have to work together.

About Bartholomew Barker

Bartholomew Barker is one of the organizers of Living Poetry, a collection of poets and poetry lovers in the Triangle region of North Carolina. Born and raised in Ohio, studied in Chicago, he worked in Connecticut for nearly twenty years before moving to Hillsborough where he makes money as a computer programmer to fund his poetry habit.
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20 Responses to The Grave of Emily Dickinson

  1. Still Waters do Run Deep. You have stated many excellent reasons for us to bend and kiss the hem of Ms Dickenson’s garment, though I would hope that her female idyll did not give BB any grand notions. Solitary is one thing. Agoraphobic is another. It takes at least one of every kind so that we all know there is no type, all types have found the Muse. All types have thus mended their wounded souls. Look at you for example, and me for another.

    I’m enjoying your adventure without leaving my seat.

    Thank You Senor, Maria Sopapilla

    Liked by 2 people

  2. JeanMarie says:

    Tell the truth but tell it slant is the one I think of when she comes up in conversation. I would say you did her justice. But you left out the most charming part. You can sing her poems to the tune of the Gilligan’s Island theme song! (Yes, yes, meter blah blah. You poet your way, I poet mine.)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sherwood Schwarz. U can’t make that stuff up.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. ivor20 says:

    Thank you for your post about Emily Dickinson … I have her “collection” beside me on my bookshelf … 1,775 poems … wow … I’ve written 1,300 poems, haha … quantity but quality

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Emily Dickinson is one of my favorites.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. berniebell1955 says:

    Well you see
    We disagree
    Mr Bartholomew
    And me.

    ‘Beats’ and ‘Angries’
    Leave me cold
    With Emily
    Some truths are told

    A shame to honour her with doggerel
    But it’s the best I can do



    Liked by 1 person

  7. berniebell1955 says:

    Does my little rhyme count as ‘work’? I was just messing – I do that a lot – messing.

    Favourite Emily Dickinson poem? It’s always hard to say…..’Hope is the thing with feathers….’ is a strong contender. How often do I go on about how there is always Hope – there at the bottom of Pandora’s box when all the evils had flown out.

    And, as Emily Dickinson says – it gives but doesn’t ask for return. It just is – somewhere – there for us – to find.

    V.v. hard to name a favourite – I can’t really do that with anything – except that husband Mike is my favourite person in all the world.

    A song my Mum sang to me was “You me and us, we are our favourite people’ – that now applies to Mike.

    And now, I sleep.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: The Grave of Robert Frost | Bartholomew Barker, Poet

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