25 August 2014

Emily Dickinson: A Private Spirit

"The difference between Despair
And Fear – is like the One         
Between the instant of a Wreck –
And when the Wreck has been –

The Mind is smooth – no motion –
Contented as the Eyes
Upon the Forehead of a Bust –
That knows – it cannot see. -"
  - a poem by Emily Dickinson, sometimes given the title The Difference 

Dickinson knew what she called her ‘waylaying Light’ was unwelcome to organized religion, alarming to the pious.  “When Jesus tells us about his father, we distrust him.  When he shows us his Home, we turn away, but when he confides to us that he is ‘acquainted with Grief,’ we listen, for that is also an Acquaintance of our own.”  This from one who defined herself as wicked while still a girl; she knew herself to be bold and incorrigibly open hearted. To this day, people fret over whether Dickinson was religious, even whether she was a moral person.   Her ideas were, and still are, radical.  Those dashes, so characteristic of Dickinson's work, are like signposts that point toward the future.  Like the tides, never static.  And now we are able to read her poems as written by her own hand.

For further reading: The Gorgeous Nothings, a facsimile edition of her manuscripts  by Emily Dickinson, New York, New Directions: 2013.
Beatrice S.Levy - The Derelict, 1914, Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Washington, D.C.


Anonymous said...

A beautiful image. It reminds me of the work of Arthur Wesley Dow, one of my all time favorite artists and educators.

Jane said...

William, yes! Arthur Wesley Dow's influence pops up everywhere. One detail is different - the little mast on the boat. Around the Newbury Marshes, where Ipswich is, the boats are usually dorys or gundalows (supposedly a variant of the word gondola), small craft to navigate the shallow waters.

Anonymous said...

Interesting observation. I am amazed at the number of artists that have been influenced by AWD, and equally impressed by those who have further knowledge of him. I had a professor in college that organized the elements of design with a pneumonic that I later found followed Dow's teaching method. He was old enough to have been a student of Dow's. I also found Dow to be the teacher of Georgia O'Keefe and was able to find an old library copy of his book "Composition." One of the most satisfying bits of searching, pre-internet, I have experienced.

Jane said...

Nice to hear your thoughts on this. I lived in Newburyport for some years as a child, so that is how I first heard about Dow. Another overlap was that Dow taught at Pratt Institute, which is where my father went to school - decades later. So that's what made me curious about Dow's work. I agree that the internet makes it much easier to research artists.