This is my letter to the world,
That never wrote to me –
The simple news that Nature told,
With tender majesty.
Her message is committed
To hands I cannot see;
For love of her, sweet countrymen,
Judge tenderly of me!
Emily Dickenson 1830-1886
Emily wrote her letter to the world which in her lifetime the world never answered. Her great intelligence coupled with her shy nature slowly over the course of several years cocooned her within the confines of her home and soul. Her biography is well know throughout the field of poetry and literature and several websites are dedicated to her life story and writing.
Emily’s keen sense of viewing the world through poetry still marvels the world. To many she is beloved as the greatest women poet America has known. In her lifetime the world was not ready for her or her writing style; it was as if her soul accidentally wondered here before its time; or did it? Her self cocooning may very well have been to fulfill her soul’s intention. The period of time within which she lived her teacher. In her poem Cocoon she writes —
DRAB habitation of whom?
Tabernacle or tomb,
Or dome of worm,
Or porch of gnome,
Or some elf’s catacomb
Tabernacle or tomb — was her seclusion her sanctuary? And if it was drab in our eyes in hers it was a world filled with passion for nature and life that wrote openly regarding death as she saw it. Her soul wrapped itself in words like a caterpillar awaiting metamorphosis.
Upon her death on May 15th, 1886 her family discovered 40 hand bound volumes of more than 800 of her poems, along with others totaling up to 1800 poems. Her sister Lavina who also lived at home all her life took the poems to Mable Loomis Todd, wife of a local college professor. Todd transcribed the poems and sought the services of Higginson the publisher that Emily sought for acceptance years prior in publishing her works. When the first volume of her poems were published in 1890 it was hailed as literary genius and quickly prompted the publication of two more volumes in 1891.
Her sister Lavina’s soul was the energy that finally allowed Emily’s soul to take flight; with wings fully transformed Emily’s soul enters the homes and hearts of millions every year. She says it best in the first stanza of The Butterfly’s Day
From cocoon forth a butterfly
As lady from her door
Emerged —- a summer afternoon—
Emily’s soul speaks to us, soothes us, repairs our souls –but it would not have happen without the soul of her sister Lavina. Is ones purpose greater than the other? I think not —-