Back in December, I tweeted about Emily Dickinson's use of the words "calm" and "wild" in her poems.
Well, true to her "Wild Nights! Wild Nights!" Ms. Dickinson did, in fact, use the word "wild" in more poems than she wrote about the "calm." As a matter of fact, she used the term "wild" in 11 poems, while she only used "calm" (or some form of it, like "calmness") in 6 poems.
Okay, so what about other opposites?
Was Dickinson more "hot" than "cold"? Was she more "day" than "night"? And what about "war" and "peace"?
I've looked into other sets of opposites below.
Let me know (via Twitter: @The_Dickinson) if you'd like to know about any other opposites.
Below: In the tables below the charts, the number equals the number of poems in which that term appears.
Upon closer inspection, though, a wonderful surprise comes into view: Every letter on the page is introduced by a line from Dickinson's poetry.
I have a friend who used to say that his birthday was on the one day of the year that no on wanted to celebrate -- January 2nd.
Of course, almost everyone celebrates on December 31st for New Year's Eve, and those who can't make it to midnight celebrate on the First of January, New Year's Day.
And then the Second rolls around -- and no one wants to party!
Well, I don't know if that is true or not, but if your birthday happens to be on January 2nd, then HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!
Oh, and since today is the second, I also looked into ordinal numbers used in the poetry of Emily Dickinson poetry, and I found five: first, second, third, fourth, and fifth. I didn't find a "sixth" of anything higher.
Interestingly, I found one poem that used all five of the numbers, "Finding is the first act":
Finding is the first Act
The second, loss,
Third, Expedition for
The "Golden Fleece"
Fourth, no Discovery --
Fifth, no Crew --
Finally, no Golden Fleece --
Jason -- sham -- too.
Here are the statistics related to Dickinson's use of ordinal numbers in her poetry:
There are only a few hours left of 2020. Tomorrow is the dawn of a new year -- and as @Reen_Machine proclaimed on Twitter, "Thank God everything will be different tomorrow." Hmm. In her other tweet below, methinks @Reen_Machine was being a bit facetious (in yet another tweet, she declared, "2020 went exactly as planned. I gained 500 pounds and got a customer support job!!!!!!" Note the profusion of exclamation points -- a sure sign of waggish mockery).
Anyway, tonight at midnight, we shall all hold a coin, shout "Happy New Year," and sing "Auld Lang Syne." Tomorrow, we'll consume pork and black eyed peas, and everything will be different.
Well, maybe not.
Remember when news surfaced that an ancient Mayan calendar predicted the end of the world in 2012? Some now think there was a discrepancy in the calendar, and the Mayan's got the number wrong. Did they really mean 2021?
I suppose we'll know more at midnight, right?
With the few hours left in 2020, and the onset of 2021 at midnight, I wondered what times of day might be included in the poems of Emily Dickinson. The information is below.
Below: Emily Dickinson in her gold Rolex watch, a gift from her parents.
Emily Dickinson used the term “o’clock” with no specified time in the poem “We pay to heaven.” In that poem, she said, “Relate – when Neighbors die -- / At what o’clock to Heaven – they fled.”
In other poems, she did mention the following specific times, once each: one o’clock, two o’clock, half-past three, four o’clock, half-past four, five o’clock, six o’clock and half-past seven.
Below are the specific times and the poems they appear in:
Dickinson also used the words "noon" in 74 poems and "midnight" in 18 poems.
Below: The following Christmas-related words appear in various poems written by Emily Dickinson:
Below: Christmas-related terms used by Dickinson -- followed by the number of poems in which the word appears;
Just after I posted the chart and table above, I checked on two other Christmas-related words: "'Twas" (as in "'Twas the night before Christmas") and "Hark" (as in "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing"):
Oh, and I also checked on the following:
Merry Christmas to one and all. And in the words of Tiny Tim, "Tiptoe through the tulips!"
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON STATISTICS OF WORD USE IN THE POETRY OF DICKINSON, CLICK HERE.
Last week, on 12/10, I participated in three events in honor of Emily Dickinson's 190th birthday. One was at the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst, PA, one took place at the Houghton Library at Harvard, in Boston, MA, and one was sponsored by the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC. Of course, due to the need for social distancing brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, all three events were provided online, and I viewed all three from home.
Below left: A greeting from Emily Dickinson's bedroom from the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst. Alas, I do not have the host's name, but she said that the event broke the museum's record for geographic representation at one of their online programs with 35 different countries represented at this birthday celebration.
Below middle: I didn't have any of Dickinson's Black Cake handy, so I enjoyed a freshly baked pretzel while viewing the program from the Houghton Library.
Below right: Poet Dorianne Laux read her own poetry and selected poems by Emily Dickinson at the event sponsored by the Folger Shakespeare Library.
Below: The program included a flight over Amherst for an aerial view of the city, the Emily Dickinson Museum, and other sites around the town. (One suggestion if they ever do this again: Please have someone narrate the flight so that viewers know what they are looking at. Fortunately, I've been to Amherst a few times, so I had a pretty good idea as to what I was seeing.)
Below: The sneak peek into Season 2 of Apple TV's "Dickinson" starred Hailee Steinfeld as Emily Dickinson as she prepared her 20-pound Black Cake for a baking contest to give the Amherst College Cattle Show a "generously spiced ass kicking" (and then, quipped Alena Smith, "hijinks ensued").
The program's readers and guests included food historian Laura Shapiro, author of What She Ate; Abigail Weil, food writer -- and much more; Heather Cole, curator of rare, unique, and special materials at the Brown University Library; NPR's Nikki Silva, co-creator of "The Kitchen Sisters"; Vanessa Braganza from the Harvard English Department; Emilie Hardman, Head of Distinctive Collections for MIT Libraries; Shayla Lawson, Assistant Professor of English at Amherst College; Rachel Syme, contributing author to "The New Yorker"; Margaret Rhee, author of a collection of poems called Love Robot; Ann Kjellberg, founding editor of Book Post; Allison Devers, author and dealer in rare books; author and poet Tracie Morris; and "Poet; Activist; Change-Maker," Amanda Gorman.
The panel shared favorite poems of Dickinson's, provided some history of food from Mount Holyoke College, discussed accounts of Emily Dickinson's chores at home ("Emily did the butterfly duties of the house, and her sister Lavinia did the moth part"), and provided readings from the letters of Emily Dickinson, and more.
The main feature of the Folger's program was poetry readings by poet Dorianne Laux, who intermingled poems of her own with poems by Emily Dickinson.
Many of Laux's poems were inspired by anecdotes from Dickinson's life and/or by many of her the poet's personal objects -- her basket (the very one she would fill with goodies and lower from her bedroom window to the excited children waiting below), her tea cup ("Bring me the sunset in a cup"), a clock, and more. In one of her poems, Laux imagined speaking to the poet once she had died, and within her poem, Laux embedded all of the words from Dickinson's "Like Brooms of steel" (below on the left).
Having seen the tour of Dickinson's room provided by Jane Wald, Laux said she was feeling inspired to write poems based on some of the other objects -- Dickinson's hurricane lamp, her sleigh bed, and of course, her white dress.
"The objects come alive to me," said Laux, "and the more you get into them, the more they speak to you personally. It's as if Emily Dickinson is speaking to me, directly to me, through the years."
"One day..." she added, "One day I'm going to write about that dress."
It feels shorter than a day since Emily Dickinson boarded a carriage and first surmised the horses' heads were toward eternity -- but what direction is "eternity"? Is it north or south? East or west?
I suspect it's toward the west, since that's where the sun sets -- but who really knows. Dickinson never said.
Anyway, speaking of directions and the the poetry of Emily Dickinson, which direction do you think Dickinson wrote about the most? North, south, east or west?
I checked this out at the online Emily Dickinson Archive, and the results are below.
Dickinson used the word "compass" in 4 poems, but in only one did she mean a "compass," an instrument to locate a direction. Three times she used the word as some form of the verb "to compass," to go around in a circular course. Dickinson also used the word "direction" once -- but she did use north, south, east and west multiple times.
Hmm. Maybe that carriage was heading east after all.
A neighbor brought some homemade cookies over today, so I made some coffee to have with them.
The coffee reminded me that this February -- or FeBREWary as we like to call it at the Emmett Lee Dickinson Museum -- we will post more of Emmett Lee Dickinson's poetry about coffee -- HERE. This will be the 9th year in a row that we have posted "28 Days of Coffee Poems."
Of course, that made me wonder how often third cousin Emily wrote about coffee -- or tea -- or any other beverage. So I checked out the online Emily Dickinson Archive (HERE) to see how often Dickinson's poems used words of food and drink.
The results are below.
When it comes to words related to eating and drinking, here's what I found (the number following the each term is how many different poems in which the word appears):
* "Drunk" was used in three poems by Dickinson; however, she used it as the past participle of "drink" only once.
** Alas, I could not check the archive for "ate" because it seemed to malfunction. Instead of pulling up entries for the word "ate," it gave me every instance where the letters "ate" appeared -- as in gATE, dATE, fascinATE, etc. There were close to 900 entries -- so I did not check them all for the word "ate."
Although I did not check for all the various types of food that Dickinson wrote about, I did check for "bread" -- it appears in 7 poems -- and "loaf" -- it appears in 3 poems.
Now back to the coffee, the original word that prompted this post. I checked to see how often Dickinson wrote about coffee, tea, and other drinks -- and here is what I found:
Oh -- and by the way -- since I happened to be checking the online archive for "eat" (6 poems) and "drink" (12 poems), I thought I might as well check for "merry" (10 poems).
So eat, drink, and be merry this holiday season. Read some poetry. And join us in FeBREWary 2021 when we post 28 more poems about coffee by Emmett Le Dickinson.
For more statistics related to the poetry of Emily Dickinson, click HERE.
It's that time of year again -- when Pantone selects the "Colors of the Year" for the coming year. I've written about Colors of the Year in the past -- click HERE and scroll down. For 2021 Pantone has selected two colors, Illuminating and Ultimate Gray.
The Pantone site states that the combination is "a message of happiness supported by fortitude" and that this choice of colors "gives us hope...that everything is going to get brighter – this is essential to the human spirit." The Pantone site on their chosen colors is HERE.
When I first saw the combination of colors, the palette of color looked very familiar to me. I had seen this synthesis of shades somewhere before, this color combination of happiness and fortitude, this blend of hues that suggests hope and all that is essential to the human spirit -- but where?
And then it hit me!
By the way, the artwork never made it to the walls of the DOPE headquarters. Alas, someone claiming to be a "performance artist" untaped my banana from the wall in the gallery in Miami -- even though it was clearly marked "SOLD" -- and ate it!!! The legal case involving this egregious action is still working its way through the courts.
Anyway, the announcement of the Colors of the Year and my memory of my lost artistic masterpiece made me wonder if Emily Dickinson ever included the names of fruits and vegetables in her poetry -- so I looked into that tonight.
It turns out that the word "fruit" appears in 3 poems by Dickinson, and the word "vegetable" never appears. However, she did write about specific fruits and vegetables. The breakdown is below:
*Dickinson used the word "berry" in 15 poems -- but in one of them she wrote, "black berry," so I separated one entry out for "blackberry."
Dickinson did use the word "orange" once, but she used it as the color, not the fruit. I did not find any use of "pear," "lemon," "lime," or "banana" -- or any other fruits.
The only two vegetables I found used in Dickinson's poem were "corn" and "pea." If I find others, I will update the chart above.
For more statistics on the poetry of Emily Dickinson, click HERE.
I "attended" three different programs today in celebration of Emily Dickinson's 190th birthday. The first session was held at the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst, MA; the second was hosted at the Houghton Library at Harvard University in Boston; the final program this evening was sponsored by the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC . Due to the COVID pandemic, all three were offered over Zoom. The details of the three programs are at the bottom of this post, HERE.
I'll write about the three programs and post pics soon. For now, though, I just wanted to post a quick response to some discussion form this evening's program about Dickinson's poetry of light and of the sun. I wondered how many of Dickinson's poems mentioned the sun and/or other heavenly bodies -- so I ran a quick check.
Here's what I found:
Here's the breakdown of the "other" in the chart above:
For more statistics on the poetry of Emily Dickinson, click HERE.
A poetry log for the Emmett Lee Dickinson Museum (above the coin-op Laundromat on Dickinson Boulevard in historic Washerst, Pennsylvania).