In Emily Dickinson's Bedroom

Lloyd Schwartz on

Published in Poem Of The Day

A chilly light pervades the empty room
bringing neither its current nor former inhabitant peace.
Rather, its immaterial lingering infests
both the air inside and what we see of the grass
outside-brittle, brown, as if it wanted to avoid the sun.
Inside, the visitor must be respectful
and polite, evasive without actually telling lies.
Everything here seems hidden-is hidden-not
just the bricked-up chimney and plastered-over doorway. Any
clue-under the wide floorboards, behind the blocked entrance-
to the haunted chambers of a heart? Patches of verse, of
old wallpaper, the main street not yet a street. What industry
motivated those uncanny dashes-these shadows
still eluding our meager efforts to scrutinize.

About this poem
"In the spring of 2014, a number of poets were invited by the Emily Dickinson Museum to each spend an hour in her bedroom, then being restored and not open to the public. The room was empty-the bed removed, each molding numbered and dated, with only a chair and little writing desk, on which a tiny basket held a facsimile draft of Dickinson's 'A chilly peace...' The visitors were encouraged to write a poem inspired by this experience. It took more than a year for my inspiration to finally arrive, in the form of a sonnet that incorporated every word of the first stanza of Dickinson's poem."
-Lloyd Schwartz

About Lloyd Schwartz
Lloyd Schwartz is the author of "Cairo Traffic" (University of Chicago Press, 2000). He teaches at the University of Massachusetts Boston and lives in Somerville, Mass.

The Academy of American Poets is a nonprofit, mission-driven organization, whose aim is to make poetry available to a wider audience. Email The Academy at poem-a-day[at]poets.org.

(c) 2015 Lloyd Schwartz. Originally published by the Academy of American Poets, www.poets.org. Distributed by King Features Syndicate




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