“Forever is composed of nows.”
“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul – and sings the tune without the words – and never stops at all.”
Emily Dickinson, one of America’s most beloved female poets, loved nature, but was so shy around people that she rarely made public appearances. People thought she was odd. Or was she simply brilliant? You be the judge.
- Emily Dickinson was born into a prominent, well-to-do family in Amherst, Massachusetts. The year was 1830.
- Emily’s father was a lawyer and politician. He served as a senator and representative for Massachusetts. Her mother was well-educated and loved science.
- Emily attended a small, one-room school, Amherst Academy, that was connected with Amherst College. Here she studied literature, botany, astronomy, zoology, natural history, and chemistry. She adored school.
- Amherst Academy was unusual for the time because it afforded girls to get the same rigorous education boys received.
- After she finished school, Emily returned home. Girls in those days did not work outside the home. She was expected to marry or help with household duties. She bristled at both those options. In particular, she did not enjoy the constant stream of visitors who came calling. At that time, these visits were considered absolutely necessary for a family in high social standing. She found the visits intrusive and annoying.
- Emily Dickinson was a rebel for her time. She questioned social customs, marriage, women’s roles, and even religion. As the years passed, many of her friends, who had in earlier years supported her views, became more conventional in her thinking. Emily was often lonely.
- Writing and poetry offered her a creative outlet. She was a careful observer of human behavior and the natural world. In her poems, she attempted to define and describe her ideas accurately. She used language in new and unusual ways.
- She enjoyed baking bread and gardening but refused to participate in many other homemaking duties. As she got older, she became more reclusive. She did like the neighborhood children though and would often lower a basket of gingerbread to them from her bedroom window.
- Emily Dickinson died in 1886. After her death, her family found over 1,800 poems that she had written. The poems were published and became almost instantly successful.
Visit the Emily Dickinson Museum.
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