Saturday, November 20, 2010

Laying In My Books For the Winter And Thoughts on Emily Dickinson

I just went crazy with one-click shopping on Amazon. I don't know how I'll manage to read all those books that I just bought. But sitting here on my comfy, white sofa this morning, my ankles feel chilly even as the furnace is trying to warm the room and I am thinking about reading my way through the cold winter months. I am wishing that I could burrow in and just absorb print material through the pores of my skin. Because I just simply don't have all the time that I need to keep up with all the reading that I should be doing, let alone the reading that I just want to do.

The books I bought are all old titles: Michael Pollen's Second Nature; Margery Fish's We Made a Garden; Eleanor Perenyi's Green Thoughts; Emily Herring Wilson's biography of Elizabeth Lawrence and finally, Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass.

There's something seductive about an old book. I buy them from the used section of Amazon and when they come, many of them are hand wrapped. Sometimes, the book seller will write a little note card and drop it into the package. "Enjoy!" The pages might smell a little musty, or there's an inscription on the title page.

In my Emily Dickinson book that I ordered last winter, it says: "June, This is one of your Christmas books. Merry Christmas and many, many more. With much love, Mom, 1981."  I  wonder why June would give away such a lovely gift from her mother. (Note to June's Mother: Don't worry Mom, maybe June will have second thoughts and come looking for it. I'll keep it safe.)

I just randomly opened to this offering from Emily, perhaps she hints at what befell the book's previous owners.

Forget! The lady with the Amulet
Forget she wore it at her Heart
Because she breathed against
Was Treason twixt?

Deny! Did Rose her Bee--
For Privilege of Play
Or Wile of Butterfly
Or Opportunity--Her Lord Away?

The lady with the Amulet--will fade--
The Bee--in Mausoleum laid--
Discard his Bride--
But longer than the little Rill--
That cooled the Forehead of the Hill--
While Other--went to Sea to fill--
And Other--went to turn the Mill--
I'll do thy Will--

I think Emily Dickinson must have been bored with her life. I picture her stowed away in her bedroom, scrawling love sick, coded poems on thick pieces of paper before squirreling them away. Her only outings  to her garden. Likely, she didn't work too hard there either. Her privileged family would have afforded a caretaker to do all the backbreaking work keeping all things there lovely. So poor Emily had nothing to do but  sit quietly observing the interplay of the interloopers, "The Bird did prance--the Bee did play--" And writing and reading was her only outlet.

She, of course, didn't have the distractions of my life. A job, a social life, a dog, children, husband, the laundry. Would she have fussed about meals and menus? Would she have thought at all about fitness and health? She wouldn't be thinking how she might fit in a run before having to head off to have her hair trimmed. Or counted off the precious hours of the weekend before Monday's rapid-fire pace loomed once again.

See, she had to have been bored. This I will never be. (Nor will I ever write poetry). And as I said, likely I won't even find the time to read all those books. But for the moment, I do enjoy the fantasy of it all. Me. A musty book. Languidly lying about. The Putterer

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