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.

Travel poem of Tuscany

This is National Poetry Month. With that in mind, here’s an idea for combining visual images gathered from a travel experience with poetry and music. The female narrator, I’m assuming, is the person who took the photos and wrote the poem. According to the description, this video was inspired by the writer’s recent trip to Tuscany.

The words reflect the images of this region of Italy, and the music helps capture the mood of the traveler’s experiences. The result is a sensory experience for the viewer. I particularly liked the contrasting textures in the blend of architecture, scenery and food. Very cool idea.

Keats and the Hampstead and Highgate Festival

This is the last day of National Poetry Month. Although this month is an American invention, here’s a poet whose influence on American poets is unquestioned, and whose former home is now a museum and poetry center. John Keats lived in this elegant house from 1818 to 1820. Back then the house was actually two houses that were later joined together.

Keats wrote several of his most famous poems here maybe because of his love for the girl next door. Fanny Brawne and Keats were supposed to marry, though theirs is a sad tale of romance cut short by illness. Keats had tuberculosis, not the best affliction to have when living in London. He headed to Italy and died there at age 25 without ever seeing Fanny again.

The Keats House Museum is in the London suburb of Hampstead. From May 9-19, the Keats House Museum is part of the Hampstead and Highgate Festival that includes concerts and community arts events.

The first four lines of Keats’ poem, “The four seasons”

” FOUR Seasons fill the measure of the year;
There are four seasons in the mind of man:
He has his lusty Spring, when fancy clear
Takes in all beauty with an easy span. . .”