Thursday, March 15, 2012

I am your only surviving dress

Emily Dickinson’s only surviving dress at the Amherst Historical Society in Amherst, Mass.

Because I could not stop for Death –
He kindly stopped for me –
The Carriage held but just Ourselves –
And Immortality.

We slowly drove – He knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For His Civility –

We passed the School, where Children strove
At Recess – in the Ring –
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain –
We passed the Setting Sun –

Or rather – He passed us –
The Dews drew quivering and chill –
For only Gossamer, my Gown –
My Tippet – only Tulle –

We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground –
The Roof was scarcely visible –
The Cornice – in the Ground –

Since then – 'tis Centuries – and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses' Heads
Were toward Eternity –

The photograph is from the new york times article on Pilgrimage
by Annie Leibovitz, which includes images of the television that
Elvis shot, and Virgina Woolf's bedroom, a sombre room which for
some reason reminds me of her suicide and elicits a voice that says
- "see, that's what a room of your own will get you..." (obviously
some heartless character I'm working on is leaking into real life:)

ps...
The Irish Writers Centre Novel fair was on Sat, and it was a really
well run event. It was wonderful to put faces to agents and publishers
that were only contact details and submission guidelines before the day.
Will let you know how The Herbalist fares:)

10 comments:

Brigid said...

Such a haunting image, Niamh.
It's always the little personal posessions that really remind you of a person so much, your Kitty's apron springs to mind.
Glad the Novel Fair went well, everythng crossed for you:)

Words A Day said...

Isnt it agreat image, its the kind that starts of a poem whether you've time to write it or not:)

Old Kitty said...

I do like Ms Liebovitz pic of Sigmund Freud's couch! That's a couch and a half to relate Oedipus complex feelings and sexual repression emotions to Mr Freud!!!

Oh but your poem!! Some words I don't understand - Tippet, Tulle but they make perfect sense in your evocative poem!!

GOOD LUCK with The Herbalist!!!

Take care
x

Niamh B said...

a pretty strange dress for her, i'd have seen her in purple for some reason... oh hope the fair yields something good for you - sounds like a great experience anyway

Louise said...

I love Emily Dickenson's work, and this poem brings back so many memories. I studied it for my leaving certificate, but at that point I had already left school at 15, and was the bold old age of 20, having returned to my studies at night. We had a wonderful english teacher, who to this day I owe my love and modest understanding of literature:) Thanks for the memories, and good luck with The Herbalist!

Words A Day said...

Niamh B
yes - later in her life Dickinson always wore white and she was buried in white...but that doesnt mean you can't still see her in purple :)
Yes the fair was brilliant, well worth it.

Words A Day said...

Louise
We did her for the leaving cert as well, the only woman on the curriculum. I still love her work.

Words A Day said...

old Kitty - isnt her photo of that couch evocative! A couch and a half is right!

Words A Day said...

ps old kitty
Thats an Emily D poem - I should have said so in the post...

Theresa Milstein said...

These lines are perfect:

The Dews drew quivering and chill –
For only Gossamer, my Gown –
My Tippet – only Tulle –