Posts Tagged ‘Emily Dickinson’

red leaves sunshine


The morns are meeker than they were,
The nuts are getting brown;
The berry’s cheek is plumper,
The rose is out of town.

The maple wears a gayer scarf,
The field a scarlet gown.
Lest I should be old-fashioned,
I’ll put a trinket on.

—Emily Dickinson

apple maple leaves



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favorites bookshelf

This is the summer of all the mysteries, as I said recently. But I’ve been reading a few other things too. Here’s the latest roundup:

Miss Emily, Nuala O’Connor
I picked up a copy of this lovely novel the day before Julia happened to review it at Great New Books. It’s a fictional account of Emily Dickinson’s friendship with an Irish maid, Ada, narrated in alternating chapters by Emily and Ada. The prose is gorgeous and I loved the bond between the two women.

A Fatal Winter, G.M. Malliet
In his second adventure, Father Max Tudor, former MI5 agent turned priest, is called upon to help solve a murder at the local castle. It’s packed full of greedy relatives, all of whom have a motive. A slow start, but an enjoyably twisty mystery, and I really like Max (and his inspector friend, DCI Cotton).

Winter Hours: Prose, Prose Poems, and Poems, Mary Oliver
This collection includes a handful of essays on the natural world, literary criticism on a few poets, and some poetry. Lyrical and thoughtful and full of good noticing, like all Oliver’s work. (And, despite the title, great beach reading.)

A Mourning Wedding, Carola Dunn
Daisy Dalrymple Fletcher and her husband Alec are invited to her best friend’s wedding – but a double murder complicates matters. A really fun, Christie-esque country house mystery with a dizzying array of characters. Alec and his team are in fine crime-fighting form, but of course Daisy saves the day in the end.

Scents and Sensibility, Spencer Quinn
Chet and Bernie are back for an eighth adventure involving a stolen cactus, an old kidnapping case and (as always) plenty of canine humor from narrator Chet. A satisfying mystery and so much fun.

I’m in the middle of half a dozen books right now – so, more to come in the end-of-month roundup!

Most links (not affiliate links) are to my favorite local bookstore, Brookline Booksmith.

What are you reading?

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robin redbreast bird spring

Hope is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.

–Emily Dickinson

I have adored Miss Emily for a long time, but I love this poem more every year.

April is National Poetry Month, and I will be sharing more poetry here on Fridays this month.

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Dear March

Dear March — Come in —
How glad I am —
I hoped for you before —
Put down your Hat —
You must have walked —
How out of Breath you are —
Dear March, how are you, and the Rest —
Did you leave Nature well —
Oh March, Come right up stairs with me —
I have so much to tell —


uni parks daffies

I got your Letter, and the Birds —
The Maples never knew that you were coming —
I declare — how Red their Faces grew —
But March, forgive me —
And all those Hills you left for me to Hue —
There was no Purple suitable —
You took it all with you —
uni parks tulips
Who knocks? That April.
Lock the Door —
I will not be pursued —
He stayed away a Year to call
When I am occupied —
But trifles look so trivial
As soon as you have come
That blame is just as dear as Praise
And Praise as mere as Blame —
—Emily Dickinson
These photos are more wishful thinking than reality in Boston, at the moment. Our view is more on the order of bare branches and piles of fresh snow. But I cling to the hope that the rest of March – or “that April” – will bring sunshine and flowers and green grass.

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Our weekends tend to ebb and flow around here.

Sometimes it’s nice (or necessary) to stick close to home, sleeping in, going to the library and the grocery store, cleaning and baking and simply soaking in the quiet. Other times we like to hop in the car for a brief adventure (like an afternoon in Marblehead, or a couple of hours in downtown Hingham). And sometimes, a Saturday – or in this case, a Friday holiday – calls for a local road trip.

J actually brought up the idea of going to Amherst, though I’d long wanted to tour Emily Dickinson’s house (and he agreed to indulge my poetic geek side). We left mid-morning and reached Dickinson’s house just in time for the 11:30 tour, guided by a sweet older lady who had lots of Emily’s poems committed to memory. You can’t take photos inside, but the exterior is lovely:

After the tour, we needed sustenance, so we headed to the Black Sheep Deli, just up the street:

Mmm. Delicious sandwiches, and a fun, vibrant, local atmosphere. We liked it so much we went back later for chai, apple cider and cream cheese brownies. YUM.

We blew our book budget at the lovely Amherst Books, and strolled around the campus of Amherst College, trying to imagine ourselves living in a little college town like this, tucked away in the Connecticut River Valley, so much farther from the urban hustle and bustle than we usually find ourselves.

We’re not moving any time soon. But we will be coming back here.

What adventures are you having lately? (And for you New Englanders – what other towns should we visit?)

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(Crocuses in University Parks, Oxford, Feb. 2008)

I dwell in Possibility –
A fairer House than Prose –
More numerous of Windows –
Superior – for Doors –

Of Chambers as the Cedars –
Impregnable of Eye –
And for an Everlasting Roof
The Gambrels of the Sky –

Of visitors – the fairest –
For Occupation – this –
The spreading wide my narrow Hands
To gather Paradise –

-Emily Dickinson

This time of year is all about possibilities. Spring isn’t quite here yet – though it’s coming. But the air around Boston hums with potential, as we approach the season of new life. This is my favorite Dickinson poem – the last line makes my heart sing.

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As an English major, I’ve read (and written) lots of poetry. I have a few favorites, though – some lines that are close to my heart, and float into my head once in a while. April is National Poetry Month, so I thought I’d share them with you. In no particular order:

1. “Tell me, what is it you plan to do / With your one wild and precious life?” (Mary Oliver, from “The Summer Day”)

2. “She will look at me with her thin arms extended, / offering a handful of birdsong and a small cup of light.” (Billy Collins, from “Tuesday, June 4, 1991.” I love pretty much everything Collins writes.)

3. “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood…” (My friend Joy and I once climbed a hill in Salzburg, Austria, through a yellow-green spring wood, and recited this poem as we climbed. Yes, we were and are huge nerds. But now when I hear Frost’s lines, I remember our hike up the Kapuzinerberg.)

4. “In a house in Paris all covered in vines / lived twelve little girls in two straight lines. […] The smallest one was Madeline.” (No explanation needed – unless you’ve never heard of Madeline, whereupon I say, go find out about her right now!)

5. “All that is gold does not glitter, / Not all those who wander are lost…” (I love this poem from The Lord of the Rings…such deep truth here, and it fits into Tolkien’s magnificent mythology.)

6. “I am living. I remember you.” (the heartbreaking last lines from Marie Howe’s “What the Living Do” – posted in its entirety on Sarah’s site)

7. “Hope is the thing with feathers – That perches in the soul – And sings the tune without the words – And never stops – At all” (Oh, how I love Dickinson. This one is my favorite.)

8. “I dwell in Possibility, / A fairer house than Prose – ” (More Dickinson. Love it.)

9. “Ricky was ‘L’ but he’s home with the flu…” (From “Love” by Shel Silverstein – see this post about fourth grade poetry.)

10. “You don’t own it – English majors!” (From a poem about poetry, by my friend Grant, who took creative writing classes even though he wasn’t an English major.)

What are the lines that have stayed with you?

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