I write this on the birthday of Emily Dickinson (December 10) and this morning I was looking through Visiting Emily: Poems Inspired by the Life & Work of Emily Dickinson (edited by Sheila Coghill & Thom Tammaro) I suppose all poets share some of Emily's oddly interesting life. (During her lifetime she wrote over 1700 poems and only 10 were published - I can identify with that.) Many poets have written poetry about her or her work because we are fascinated with how our fellow writers work.
For this prompt about Emily, you might write in her style, or begin with one of her epigrams or take a virtual visit to her homestead in Amherst or write a poem through her eyes ("my eyes, like the sherry in the glass that the guest leaves")
As a sample look at "EMILY DICKINSON LEAVES A MESSAGE TO THE WORLD, NOW THAT HER HOMESTEAD IN AMHERST HAS AN ANSWERING MACHINE" a poem by X.J. Kennedy (from Dark Horses) and you can start your Emily review with the 2 poems below.
There's a certain
Slant of light,
Heavenly Hurt, it gives
None may teach it--
When it comes, the Landscape
It's all I
have to bring to-day,
Mouse of Amherst
The Body and the Soul
Soul, wilt thou toss again? Emily Dickinson
It is the Being in the thing
That brings me to my knees
It travels in the bodys guise
And more than plainly sees.
I held you in my arms
Your skin like polished jade
It was for Pleasure's sake I cried,
And Solitude unmade.
to the bodys
Its piety undone
By all the tools that Time has plied
In its sequestered run.
a ribbon in the blood
A subtext to the cell
It winds the mane that Dying rides,
And reins the Truth we tell.
When Emily Said
When Emily said she would
hereafter pick no rose,
lest it fade or prick her-
she turned from the path
whose edges are flowered
all summer below her window,
and stopped waiting for the mail.
The heart is the only workman
we cannot excuse-
painting emotions in white
watercolor wash on white paper
using dew from the grass,
a blade as a brush,
the window glass prism for colors.
Faith, like the sailor who cannot see
the North but knows the Needle can-
stands beside her this winter day
and touches a cross to her forehead.
His touch is warm but dry.
Gratitude is the timid wealth
of those who have nothing.
Emily, we must be careful what we say.
A thought, a letter, a poem-
words gathered day by day,
pressed in pages or hung from a rafter
in a dried bouquet, they stay.
Find Peace in a pale yellow rose,
preserved beside a moss-covered name.
to save their
life. That "certain
of light" that brought my hand
to brush or loom I cant
recall, but know I must remand
its memory to art, which snares
meandering sight to where
it cant escape. I have to care
enough for passing light that bears
such truth - enough to capture it
to hold for those with slower sight
who close their eyes to too much bright
on "Winter Afternoons" to rapture it.
Catherine M. LeGault
In Younger days, I see your eyes,
I have shed so many tears.
The trees are bare, and I can't bare
to see you all these years.
But winters come and go,
I too have grown cold.
I wish, I could be with you.
But alas our time is old.
What can I do to bring you back.
To the person I once knew.
To see the smile, I always saw.
But now is gone, and has withered like the morning dew.
So Emily, I see through your eyes.
A Love that I once had.
So here my poem lies.
Line by line, of seasons, of when I die.
But one day I too will be like winters frost.
For my words have paid the cost.
Buried, forgotten, and remembered only through my poetry.
But alas I have you to thank, my sweet dear Emily.
Raul Robert Maldonado
Blacker than Mississippi bottom
Harrowed in its cradle,
What is its true worth?
Dressed in winter's icy cotton
The lid rejects the ladle
And demons dance on the skinny plain.
In this, the land of our birth,
All Truth is soon forgotten
Like the Mohegan's deer-hide rattle.
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