In 1853 three destructive hurricanes criss-crossed the Commonweatlh of Pennsylvania, and the trio of storms devastated the city of Washerst, the birthplace of Emmett Lee Dickinson (Emily Dickinson’s third cousin, twice removed – at her request). We wrote about this terrible time in history HERE.
Soon after the third storm, Hurricane Euphemia, leveled what was left of the town, Emmett Lee Dickinson wrote his now-classic poem “On this long storm the storm surge rose.” It was in this work that he coined the term and the concept of being "hunkered down." Dickinson also attempted to advance the notion of "hunkering up," but that idea never seemed to catch on with the public.
Below on the left: Emmett Lee Dickinson's poem "On this long storm the storm surge rose." Below on the right: Third cousin Emily's poem "On this long storm the rainbow rose" which was inspired by Emmett Lee Dickinson's poem.
By Emmett Lee Dickinson:
On this long storm the storm surge rose
On this late morn, no sun;
The clouds, like angry elephants,
Horizons hunkered down.
The sea rose roughly from the shore
The gales indeed were fierce
Alas! How evil was the eye
On whom the landfall pierced
The wild expanse of its breadth
At daybreak did appear
The shifting cone of uncertainty
Became wholly clear.
By Emily Dickinson:
On this long storm the rainbow rose,
On this late morn the sun ;
The clouds, like listless elephants,
Horizons straggled down.
The birds rose smiling in their nests,
The gales indeed were done ;
Alas ! how heedless were the eyes
On whom the summer shone !
The quiet nonchalance of death
No daybreak can bestir
The slow archangel's syllables
Must awaken her.