A Tale of Two Emilys

Sometimes things just tickle me. That was the case with what I found this morning when I peeked at topix.net”s poetry news page. Topix.net is one of those sites that conglomerates news from newspapers and websites around the world on various topics. It”s one of my favorite places to pick through for “unusual” news about poetry. Since the feed scans local newspapers all over the world, I”m as likely to stumble over little stories about the poet living next door as about Seamus Heaney being shortlisted for yet another prize for his collection “District and Circle”. Among the things I”ve found there are the stories about the Indian poet in New Delhi who publishes his own works – on the back of his taxicab – and the one about the woman who is determined to write a poem for every single one of the victims in the 9/11 WTC attacks. This morning”s cornucopia of poetry news included news about two separate poetic Emilys – Emily Dickinson and Emily Bronte.

The name of Emily Dickinson, the Belle of Amherst, was involved in a rather appropriate event on Halloween last week. Workers making improvements to the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst uncovered a gravestone under 18 inches of dirt in the front lawn. There”s no suggestion of foul play, mind you, nor even a hint of impropriety – just the mystery of why the grave marker of Dickinson”s brother”s father-in-law was buried in the front yard. The man himself, Gen. Thomas Gilbert, is buried in a nearby cemetery with a more elaborate tombstone, though it wasn”t the first resting place for the man”s bones. His remains had been moved from Greenfield to Amherst after his daughter, one of Dickinson”s closest friends, married the poet”s brother and settled in Amherst permanently. What does one do with a used grave marker? The executive director of the Emily Dickinson Museum suggests that it might have been used as a step, or to cover a hole. Chances are that we”ll never know, but it”s one of those little curiosities that are fun to collect.

The other Emily story may be of considerable interest to fans and scholars of Emily Bronte. The piece is a review of a new fictionalized history of the Bronte sisters at Bronte Blog. The book, Emily”s Journal by Sarah Fermi, is written in the voice of Emily Bronte, and proposes that the book Wuthering Heights may have been based on a tragic affair in Bronte”s own life. The three Bronte sisters have been a fascination to writers for decades, and Emily”s Journal is the latest in many books written about their lives and the course that led them to write such enduring works of fiction. Emily Bronte was also a poet, though, and Fermi sifted through her poems, matching them to parish records and census reports and other research in an attempt to recreate what may have been a true story of a love denied by the social mores of the time. Bronte Blog”s revew (posted by Cristina) brings up many points of interest, and does make me want to get my hands on a copy of the book to read it for myself. On a side note, if you”re a Bronte fan, do check out Bronte Blog, whic has a wealth of information about Charlotte, Anne and Emily Bronte, their works and the theories surrounding the three women. Fun to read, and extremely enlightening.




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