The Belle of Amherst
Today is Emily Dickinson's birthday. She was born in 1830. I'm particularly struck by these two paragraphs in today's Writers' Almanac:
Over the years, scholars have done a lot of speculating about Dickinson, coming up with all sorts of theories. Last year, a biographer named Lyndall Gordon suggested that Dickinson was epileptic, and that her epilepsy explained her seclusion, the rhythm and content of her poetry, and even her famous white dress, which according to Gordon was white for sanitary reasons. Various critics have tried to prove that her seclusion was the result of a broken heart, and have offered up any number of men in her life as the possible heartbreaker. A few years ago, a scholar named Carol Damon Andrews published an article claiming that Dickinson was engaged to her brother's friend George Gould, but that her father broke it up because Gould was too poor, and that Dickinson's love poems are written to Gould. There is also the popular theory that she was a closeted lesbian, possibly in love with her sister-in-law, Susan. Other scholars have diagnosed Dickinson with SAD, seasonal affective disorder.
Many people think that there is no one answer for Dickinson's seclusion — but that above all, she was driven by a fierce desire to write poetry, and she chose to sacrifice everything else for that. Allen Tate said: "All pity for Miss Dickinson's 'starved life' is misdirected. Her life was one of the richest and deepest ever lived on this continent."
One of the richest and deepest ever lived on this continent. How about that as something to aspire to?