Spend March with Emily Dickinson

Dear March—Come in—(1320)/ Emily Dickinson – 1830-1886

Dear March—Come in—
How glad I am—
I hoped for you before—
Put down your Hat—
You must have walked—
How out of Breath you are—
Dear March, how are you, and the Rest—
Did you leave Nature well—
Oh March, Come right upstairs with me—
I have so much to tell—

I got your Letter, and the Birds—
The Maples never knew that you were coming—
I declare – how Red their Faces grew—
But March, forgive me—
And all those Hills you left for me to Hue—
There was no Purple suitable—
You took it all with you—

Who knocks? That April—
Lock the Door—
I will not be pursued—
He stayed away a Year to call
When I am occupied—
But trifles look so trivial
As soon as you have come

That blame is just as dear as Praise
And Praise as mere as Blame—

It’s March, 2021. Over a year into the pandemic and you’re waiting to see which can move faster: the variant or the vaccine. You need some words that can hold both hope and worry, life and death together in the same breath.

Spend the month with the life and words of the poet, Emily Dickinson. Do not begin with any specific goals or expectations. Instead, let ED’s words guide you. The only requirements:

  • Try to pick a different poem each day and read through it at least 3 or 4 times–in your head and out loud.
  • Write down some of your thoughts–why you like it, what you found bewildering, what makes you wonder, words you’d like to use, etc.
  • Spend as little or as much time as you need with the poem.
  • Be open to whatever happens next. 
additional tips (suggestions, not requirements)
  • Look up confusing words in the dictionary or the Emily Dickinson Lexicon, find secondary sources when you need help understanding; the Prowling Bee is a good place to start.
  • To become better acquainted with the poem, memorize it and recite it as you move–run or walk or bike or hike or whatever.
  • If available, find audio of others’ reading her words. Listen to them to hear the meter, the slant rhymes, the awkward line breaks and rhythms.
  • Do not be too hard on yourself if you miss a day, or if you are too enthusiastic to read just one, or you need more than one day for a poem.
  • Focus less on the BIG significance of her words for others–scholars, historians, academics, poetry people–and more on their significance for you. Don’t worry about searching for THE right answer. Look for how ED answers your questions, how her words unlock new doors and understandings for you.
  • Learning more about ED’s life and the context in which she was writing can be helpful. Remember that there are many different versions of this context and that scholars/artists/writers have a wide range of interpretations of who ED was and how/why she wrote. Here are 3 fascinating versions: 1. These Fevered Days , 2. Dickinson, the show, and 3. Lives Like Loaded Guns. Each of these uses ED’s archive (her poems, letters) and secondary sources in different ways to imagine their own version of Emily Dickinson.
  • At the end of the month, make a list of future ED topics you’d like to explore in greater depth.

See RUN! and my exercise, Dear March — Come in —