Thursday, October 16, 2008

"I went in there one day, and in the drawing room I found Emily reclining in the arms of a man."

Emily Dickinson had a secret lover!
It's now widely assumed that that man was Judge Otis Lord, a widower of her father's generation who proposed marriage to Dickinson late in his life and hers (she died in 1886 at the age of 56) only to be affectionately rebuffed. "Don't you know," she wrote coyly but decisively, "that you are happiest while I withhold and not confer?" Yet the notion of Emily Dickinson making out in her living room is so foreign to our conception of her that her autumnal tryst with Judge Lord has never become part of the popular lore about her.
Will you read her poetry in the same way again? Is it better to think of her as an old spinster longing for the beauty of romantic companionship but never finding it? Is it disappointing to think that she wasn't so different from all us romantic fools?

I bet that if Emily Dickinson had been a fan of '80's pop songs, this one would have been near the top of her favorites list:


  1. Ok that is hysterical...the video, I mean. Wow, what a blast from the past. Thanks for that!

  2. Jamie: It's funny how such a beautiful-sounding song can have such terribly immoral lyrics. But, then, that's the whole point, isn't it? ;)