Wednesday, April 14, 2004


Sooooooooooooo exciting! CNN reports here that the house next to Emily Dickinson's in Amherst - called The Evergreens - is now open for tours. This was Austin's house - Emily's brother - and his wife Susan, who was Emily's closest confidant - and, as people argue in some screenplays (ahem...), the source of her greatest suffering. It was to Sue that Emily wrote with grim irony, "You have taught me more than any other person."

My father and I got a personal tour of The Evergreens five years ago. It was far from being tour ready at that point, and they didn't let us go upstairs because the artifacts were still unorganized and unprotected. I stood at the bottom of the stairs and projected myself up past the scarlet silk wallcovering to the rooms beyond. The house was eery because it was kept exactly the same as it had been when Sue and Austin had held court there as Amherst's first family a hundred years before. "What sagacity perished here?" - One can't help thinking in Emily phrases whilst in Amherst.

According to the article, they will be painting Emily's house the original mustard yellow that it was in her lifetime. (Amherst College had been desecrating the poet's home for decades, using it as faculty housing and adding modern amenities. When we first went on pilgrimage to Amherst in the early 1980's, my father, a museum curator, was horrified and affronted for the historical loss. I, for the Poet's memory. As Dad noted with umbrage, "On the other side of town, they preserve Robert Frost's house like it was a shrine to a God!" Frost is a minor, minor poet next to Dickinson. We concluded that it was a sexist thing.) I'll make my next pilgrimage once the house is painted....Or any time I can get there, of course.

Thanks to Clayton for the heads up.

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