At the end of Dan Chiasson’s current New Yorker article Emily Dickinson’s Singular Scrap Poetry, there’s a note that
“This is an extraordinary time to read Dickinson, one of the richest moments since her death. The publication of ‘Envelope Poems’ and the growing collection of Dickinson’s manuscripts, available online and in inexpensive print editions, coincides with an ambitious restoration of the Dickinson properties in Amherst, including a reconstruction of the poet’s conservatory—a space that was second only to her bedroom in its importance to her art. Those looking for an even closer connection to Dickinson can rent her bedroom for an hour at a time and see precisely what she saw. The other elements of the picture, sun and moon and wind and birdcall, are just as she left them. She is the only thing missing.”
Wait…what?! “Those looking for an even closer connection to Dickinson can rent her bedroom for an hour at a time and see precisely what she saw.”
“Whoa ho ho! That’s way too good to be true!” I thought. “The New Yorker must not be keeping up with fact-checking! Shame on The New Yorker!” I wrote to the staff at the Emily Dickinson Museum to find out for sure whether this was the case.
Later that night, because this is the sort of thing we lovers of Emily Dickinson’s poetry do, I dreamed that I was exploring Emily Dickinson’s rooms and gardens. It was one of the most beautiful dreams I’ve ever had.
I’ve toured the house before, and I’m not one of the people who tend to break out in tears when they enter Dickinson’s bedroom (I’ve heard of visitors doing this and begging the tour guides to let them be alone in the room for a while…but of having their wishes denied…) but I’ve found that visiting the home of one of one’s favorite writers can often be the equivalent of a spiritual experience, especially if that writer’s words have helped one through hard times.
And especially if that writer is Emily Dickinson, who was known for wearing angel-white dresses and who wrote in Hymnal Measure….
One of the kind staff members wrote me back today…and….WHAT CHIASSON SAID IS TRUE.
Check out this info page: ‘a mighty room’: Studio Sessions in Emily Dickinson’s Bedroom
“Enjoy a ‘sweet hour’ in Emily Dickinson’s creative space where she penned her startling poetry. Whether you are a writer, an artist, a composer, or a poet, you’ll find solace and inspiration for your artistic output in Emily Dickinson’s bedroom. Let this quiet experience jumpstart your next creative journey.
“Participants may spend up to two hours in the bedroom. A small table and chair will be provided. Participants will experience the solitude and quiet of Dickinson’s corner bedroom, and enjoy the view from the Poet’s windows.”
Prices start at $100 for one hour, and “The bedroom door will be kept open at all times and a museum staff member will be available to answer any questions.”
omg omg omg omg….
Sweet hours have perished here;
—This is a mighty room;
Within its precincts hopes have played,—
—Now shadows in the tomb.
– Emily Dickinson
(poetry diary 102)