National Poetry Month: Emily Dickinson’s Grave and house museum

Cemeteries are fine destinations for gathering poetry fodder. I’m fond of cemeteries myself. To me, they are peaceful places where one can search for the connections between the people who are buried there and our own lives.

No one wrote poetry about death as well as Emily Dickinson. For National Poetry Month, here’s a nod to Dickinson with information about the house where she lived, a tour of of her grave in West Cemetery in Amherst, Massachusetts and one of her poems.

Dickinson was born and lived her entire life in Amherst, where she wrote more than 1,700 poems and lived as a recluse with a few exceptions.

Her house is now a museum, but check the hours as they are seasonal. There are actually two houses that make up the Emily Dickinson Museum. She lived at The Homestead and her brother Austin lived next door at the Evergreens with his wife and children.

The tour of the cemetery and the poem are after the jump. The tour gives you the feeling as if you are following the narrator around the grounds, and the poem alludes to how Dickinson might feel about where she is buried.

Ample Make This Bed

Ample make this bed.
Make this bed with awe;
In it wait till judgment break
Excellent and fair.

Be its mattress straight,
Be its pillow round;
Let no sunrise’ yellow noise
Interrupt this ground.

— Emily Dickinson

Even though I’ve never been to this particular graveyard, after seeing this video, I have a sense of what it might be like. I love the interactions between the person behind the camera and the person in front. The details about the grass around Dickinson’s grave compared to the rest of the cemetery offers insider info, something a person might not notice otherwise.

National Women History Museum: A Guide to Many Places

For an in-depth look at women’s history in the United States, check out the National Women’s History Museum. Unlike museums that you can actually go to, this one is on-line. The museum is a virtual smorgasbord of U.S. women’s history that includes current news, visual exhibits (the cyber variety) and event descriptions that you actually can go to—for real. One link, however, lists women’s history walking tours that are the do-it-your-self variety.

The walking tours are divided into three categories. Good Old Days: Women’s Daily Lives includes various houses where prominent women in the Washington, D.C. area lived, places that highlight women’s lives in the past, and The DAR Museum (The Daughters of the American Revolution). The In Their Footsteps tour traces the path of the women’s suffragist movement and the tour, Women in the Abolitionist Movement highlights sites in Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Boston and New York.

The tours aren’t meant to be followed in any particular order. Instead, they provide an unique way to approach history with a focus on the women who helped it happen.