189 years?!

Emily Dickinson.   

*cue wisps of white curtains spilling from a midnight window*

*cue a shadowy figure diving out of sight of passersby*

*cue flowers and birds and a post-death cleanup likely including the phrase: “Hey, who the heck shoved so much paper in this drawer?!”*


The name conjures various images for plenty of readers—thanks in most part to some various forms of “publicity” (term used loosely here) in the wake of her death. I read once that her niece, Martha, said Emily’s last words were,

“I must go in; the fog is rising.”

If so, the statement is strikingly prophetic.

Whether Emily fed the rumor mill intentionally or not (across years of study, I admit there are few times I’ve seen Dickinson do anything without clearly definable intent or purpose, so I mention it as a sincere possibility), to distill to the bare basics:

—quirks fed stereotypes fed rumors fed myths fed fame fed legends fed losing a positively brilliant, perceptive woman within an absolute maelstrom of mist—

Thank goodness we didn’t lose the poems. Well, the majority of them. At least we think.

If indeed the mystery is what initially led to sales, the poems themselves—creations of a petite woman’s mind (“I took my power in my hand” indeed—take that, patriarchy!)—are the reason she has triumphed over mortality itself.

The festivity of the poet’s 189th birthday is around the corner. Consider the scarcity of individuals celebrated by perfect strangers after death—then consider the scarcity of individuals celebrated 189 years after birth and 133ish years after death.

Somewhere, Dickinson and Shakespeare are high-fiving and doing pencil drops.

Which is, admittedly, a pretty incredible visualization—that ultimately leads us to an even more essential point:

Consider the scarcity of women celebrated for their genius and subsequent creative masterpieces 189 years after birth and 133ish years after death.

Fog or not, we see you, Em, through each of your creations. And yes, I believe you wanted it that way.

PS: Thank you for the drawerful.


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