Last night I saw the best play about Emily Dickinson I could imagine. It was a musical, and it was performed by fifth grade actors who brought this luminous ecstatic poet ("the Myth" as she was sometimes called) to life. It also brought to vivid life her bustling, growing Amherst ("the only thing silent in Amherst is the 'h'"). Written by my brilliant playwright friend Judith Nielsen, music composed by a young and talented composer, Laura Reed, "The House of Emily D" is, fittingly, a play in verse.
It made me remember how much I love the surprising and mystical figures in ED's verse. The play well portrayed her outwardly quiet and inwardly exciting life, the way she engaged with children as she couldn't always with adults. Made me want to write more poems springing from her verses, like this from my book Gods of Water and Air.
Takes the Stage
that I was crowned
Was like the other Days --
Until the Coronation came --
And then -- 'twas Otherwise --
~ Emily Dickinson
Like the Beach Blanket Babylon
lady who carries a city on her head,
some women walk to the soul’s well,
balancing with both hands the water
for their thirsty village,
but, Emily, you balanced
on your slender neck
a galaxy-wide diadem
that dropped jewels everywhere,
in field and town, in school and parlor,
in letter and note. Children, maids,
and innocents pounced on
the green, glinting stones you strewed.
in your wake. Unlike the Babylon lady,
you didn’t need props
to hold up your crown.
You only needed to lighten it
by sewing into packets your wit
on death, your living gems.
Special offer: Midsummer Metaphors ~ until June 30, 2014, you can buy an autographed copy of Gods of Water and Air directly from me for only $11.00! Email me if you want one: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Labels: book discount, ekphrastic poetry, Emily Dickinson, gods, poetry