our trip are HERE. Our tour guide presented an authentic picture of Emily Dickinson and not the
standard "recluse in white" caricature of the poet. She spoke of Dickinson's sense of humor, her travels, her relationships, and her habits and diversions.
The museum includes a replica of one of Dickinson's dresses (with a handy pocket in the back for paper and pencil for jotting down spur-of-the-moment ideas, impressions, and inspirations), and our guide talked about the sensible nature of Dickinson and the practicality of wearing such a dress. A key advantage of this type of house dress -- considering the fashion of the day -- was that Dickinson did not have to wear "punitive underwear" (as our guide termed it).
So what does "punitive underwear" have to do with Emmett Lee Dickinson (Emily Dickinson's third cousin, twice removed -- at her request)? It reminded me of a poem he wrote (which, in turn, inspired a poem by E. E. Cummings) – and Dickinson’s lines include a bit of a surprise.
I blogged about Dickinson's and Cummings’ poems recently; you can read them -- and see the "surprise" -- HERE.
For those who are not accustomed to Cummings' style, his vertical poem reads, "nothing can surpass the mystery of stillness." Though he matched the structure of Dickinson's poem, Cummings chose a sober topic. Dickinson, on the other hand, wrote about one his frequent themes: silliness. His poem reads, "nothing can mean more than silliness" -- with an added silly surprise embedded in the poem! You'll see it. It's "under there."
Note: I did not take the picture in the upper left corner of this post as photographs are not allowed on the tour of the Dickinson Museum.