|Mr Higginson, Are you too deeply occupied |
to say if my verse is alive?
The tour at the beautiful home (at the top of the post) where Emily was born and died emphasized her passionate, gregarious nature. Her hair remained bright red until her death, as if reflecting the emotion we see in her writing. Her family was important in Amherst and Emily was well educated and had many friends. But the fact remains that as her life went on, she became more and more reclusive. Emily died at 55, and high blood pressure seems to have been the culprit. High blood pressure and reclusiveness suggest that she suffered a lot of anxiety.
On the other hand, when you enter her bedroom, you can see why she wouldn't have wanted to leave. It was on the second floor in the corner visible in the photo above, and she had great views:
|She could see her brother's house next door...|
|...the building where her father worked in town...|
|...and this church's steeple.|
I say "determined" because she kept writing in spite of what appears to be a deeply held belief that her writing was of no interest beyond Emily's circle of friends. In other matters, she doesn't seem to have been someone so easily kept down. So why didn't she try harder to be published? (Ten poems appeared anonymously during her lifetime.) It must be partly due to her respect for Mr. Higginson's opinion. The two corresponded throughout Emily's life. He visited Amherst a couple of times and spoke at her funeral. And so, in spite of numerous accomplishments, Mr. Higginson is mostly remembered as the man who told Emily Dickinson not to publish.
Lack of publishing deadlines freed Emily up to keep perfecting her poems for years. She was very particular about word choice, which is admirable, but has made the editing of her work nightmarish.
Much more information about Emily Dickinson's surprisingly complex life and the inspiring place she lived and worked is available at the museum's site.