Pages from Leigh-Anne's Journal
"Reflecting on Emily
have always found Dickinson to be rather intriguing and after
learning more about her in this unit, I find her even more so
then I did before. She would be an interesting person to talk
to, I believe because she was questioning so much of what was
accepted and considered to be the "norm" at a time when most
when along with the flow. Added to that is the unusual way
that she went about her "questioning" of the world. Her
defiance was private, quiet and such that many didn't even
know of how she truly felt and thought until after her death.
And the sheer volume of her work—how
many poems can one write in a single lifetime? For her, the
answer was thousands.
I also find it very fascinating how she chose to shut herself
off the from the world (she did this even when she was a child
as she would lock herself in the cellar to avoid going to
church with the rest of her family). I've often thought
that people who lock themselves away or keep themselves apart
from others are usually the ones that demonstrate the most
intelligence and/or are the ones that spend the majority of
their time caught up in thought and contemplation.
It's as Emerson said in "Self-Reliance"—how
the wise man is able to keep to himself; to remain an
individual even in the midst of a crowd. Whitman was the
master at this but Dickinson did it in a very literal sense—she
removed herself completely, keeping her own thoughts to
herself always and yet...she must have felt a driving force to
express these thoughts to herself at the very least. In my
mind, it seems that they must have burned within in her so
brightly that she had to get them out on paper so that she at
least could see them even if she chose not to share them with
the world just yet.
Dickinson fascinates me because she is something of a
paradox. A lonely sort of figure as her poems often convey a
sense of distance and the loneliness of longing (or at least
that's how I interpret many of them). And yet, she was
probably not as lonely as she seems to us now—she
always had her family and even neighbors. What reclusiveness
she possessed, she had by choice—it
was her own choice to shut herself off from the world and no
others. Whenever I think of Dickinson, this is the poem that
always springs to my mind:
This is my letter to the world,
That never wrote to me,--
The simple news that Nature told,
With tender majesty.
Her message is committed
To hands I cannot see;
For love of her, sweet countrymen,
Judge tenderly of me!"
me, she will always be this paradoxical character that we will
never quite be able to figure out to the best of our
satisfaction. Writing letters to the world, writing poetry in
a strong, clear voice and yet, she remained very locked up
inside herself all at the same time. Only through writing was
she confident and truly daring. Such a combination—a
loud mind-voice and a quiet speaking voice.
When one looks at Dickinson's life and at her work, there
always seems to be more questions then answers. One of the
many reasons why I would love to have the ability to travel
backwards in time and sit down and have a conversation with
her. Only then would I really be able to get an understanding
of what she was like as a person and why she lived her life
the way she did: existing within the world and yet not exactly
a part of it.
Myself, I identify with that sentiment quite well.