Emily Dickinson became my favorite poet when I turned 8. I have read probably every one of her poems, but I’ve always felt sneaky reading them. I knew she hadn’t necessarily intended on publishing them, she just kept locked up in her room, died young, and they were published posthumously when discovered. But those things aside, the words, the hiatuses, the subjects of Emily’s poetry always fascinated me. I suddenly would become acutely aware of what a young girl to middle aged woman in the late 1800s sees from her little, foggy window in a creaking, wooden house. She was an eccentric lady dressed in all white who suddenly became a recluse and made most contact with people through correspondence until she died in her room.
When I was little, I remember her use of the word “amethyst” to describe the sunset on the mountains always fascinated me. I would sit up on my hill and watch Chestnut Ridge light up in that exact amethyst, see the sun blaze off the steeples in the town across the valley, and try to write my own poems about it. I also loved her frequent use of the bird bobolink and how she once, in a letter, referred to herself as being as “small” as a wren, her hair “bold” like a chestnut burr, and her eyes the color of “sherry that guests leave behind in their glasses”. Because I love her sunsets, mountains, and birds so much, I’d say this poem is most likely my favorite:
318. I’ll tell you how the sun rose.
I’ll tell you how the Sun rose —
One Ribbon at a time —
The Steeples swam in Amethyst —
The news, like Squirrels, ran —
The Hills untied their Bonnets —
The Bobolinks — begun —
Then I said softly to myself —
“That must have been the Sun”!
But how he set — I know not —
There seemed a purple stile
That little Yellow boys and girls
Were climbing all the while —
Til when they reached the other side,
A Dominie in Gray —
Put gently up the evening Bars —
And led the flock away —