Saturday, December 20, 2003


Someone wrote asking me why I love Emily Dickinson so much. It is an interesting question why we love anyone so much.

Emily was a lofty soul, with one of history's loftiest intellects bouncing her around perpetually between agony and exhilaration. She is the greatest enigma of literary history, incorporating in her life and work so many paradoxes that many people give up looking too close at her because the study leaves them feeling small.

Emily was a great poet and thinker. I admire her because of her intellect and her dedication to her art. I am in awe of the act of faith she made in embracing obscurity - even knowing she was a great poet. I suppose I love her, however, because of the piercing way she articulates her sufferings and her joys. She has assured me many times - in the CS Lewis sense - that I am not alone.

Having spent the last thirty years sitting at her feet, I think the better question is, "How can you NOT love Emily Dickinson?"

As a Christmas present, here are a few wonderful lines from the poet who referred to herself as "the only Kangaroo Among the Lilies."

"To make even heaven more heavenly, is within the aim of us all."

"The unknown is the highest need of the intellect."

"Do not try to be saved - but let Redemption find you
-as it certainly will."

"Beauty crowds me till I die - "

"Good times are always mutual - that is what makes them good times."

"Trial - as a Stimulus - far exceeds wine."

"Where the Treasure is, there the Brain is also."

"The Heart wants what it wants -
or else it doesn't care."

"Had we less to say to those we love, perhaps we should say it oftener."

"The only Balmless Wound, is the departed Human Life that we had learned to need."

"The things of which we want the Proof, are those we knew before."

"Nature, it seems to me, plays without a friend."

"The soul must go by Death alone - so, it must by life."

"I wish one could be sure the suffering had a loving side."

"Till it has loved, no man or woman can become itself."

"The hearts that never lean, must fall."

"Only Love can wound.
Only Love heal the wound."

"I work to drive the awe away - yet awe impels the work."

"Why is it Nobleness makes us ashamed? Because it is so seldom, or so hallowed?"

"Abstinence from Melody was what made him die."

"How strange that Nature does not knock, and yet, does not intrude."

"Affection wants you to know it is here. Demands it - to the utmost."

"The Mind is so near itself, it can not see distinctly."
"Is not the distinction of affection, almost Realm enough?"

"Adulation is inexpensive -except to him who accepts it."

"A friend is - a solemnity."

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