My Muse - Emily Dickinson


Miss Emily Dick

It was a cold wintry day in Indiana, where I wrote poetry as fast as it seemed to descend on me, often 10 or more a day, - that two special friends, Tom and Ginny Marsh, both potters of the highest order, commented on the few little handwritten poems I'd shared with them.

I'd never considered publishing any of my poetry. Indeed, sharing as I had with them, in a very private and almost intimate way, was the extent of it. I say intimate because my poetry for all the years up till I came to Hubpages 3 years ago, was so private and to record my deepest being.

They compared not only my poetry with Emily Dickinson's, but my life at the time, as well. I shared a similar isolation and insulation from the world, you see. Her poems written by hand, bound into packets and tied with ribbons, were not unlike mine, written on notebook paper and bound in theme covers.

I'd gotten my introduction to her work in school - though when I was an undergraduate, it wasn't all that long after it had begun to be fairly widely published and read! But I hadn't paid too much attention to it and knew little about her life. I just had a vague awareness that she was an esoteric figure in white who wrote poetry. I wrote poetry but was not too excited about reading a lot of poets.

But immediately on that chilly day in my rural setting, I felt a strong, almost uncanny kinship with her. For years I was to study her life, her letters, and to read a lot of her poetry, though it was in her letters that I found the most of her personality.

Oh! - She'd grown up and lived her life in Massachusetts. She in New England, born about 102 years befoe me, in far Southwest Texas! Quite a contrast, though all that just fell away as I learned of her, not easy to do, since her life was so private! But I left no stone unturned to devour all that has been written about her - and by her.

This poem was written in 1972, shortly after that first introduction and after I'd begun to follow her work, and its words poured forth my impressions of the poet, the woman, the courageous, though almost monastic soul.

Tiny Messenger

A little wren,



Yet emphatic,

Came, became,

And studied life

From inside out

With eyes so fresh

And undistorted,

No one else

Could understand.

Coded into simple words -

Bees and hummingbirds -

And locked away

With gentle hand,

Till sight and heart

Outgrew the fragile nest,

At last the wren

Lay down to rest

In cradles of

The larger Self,

Where wrens are understood

By hummingbirds,

And known

To other wrens.

_____© Nellieanna H. Hay

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SilverGenes 6 years ago

Is is possible to express joy and awe all at once? Nellieanna, this is a portrait of perfection in every sense. To think that when sight and heart outgrow the fragile nest, there is a cradle of the larger self - oh my. It takes my breath away!

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Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS Author

As ED always has, mine. I wrote this long ago and I must admit when I read it again myself, it touches me deeply. She appeared in my life like a beacon, truly. I knew that if she could write of such amazingly wide and deep things, and still keep it so simple and of the heart, while living an almost monastic life, then - so could I.

Thank you, Alexandra. I'm so pleased you are the first to read it. I've meant to write an extensive hub about her, her life and her work, but it seemed to me that this says enough right now. The other will still come along. I'm thinking on it.

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Christopher Price 6 years ago from Vermont, USA


Emily would be so proud of you...and flattered for herself.

I so love how the cadence of your staccato lines echo the quick sharp movements of your subject. And like the unpreposessing wren, your images are clean, clear and beautifully unadorned.

This is undoubledly one of my favoites. Shame on you for hoarding this treasure for so long!

Hugs m'dear.


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Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS Author

Aw, geewillikers, Christopher - thank you. This has been one of my own favorite poems for so long. I didn't intend to hoard it, but had thought it would be good on a page ABOUT ED. But then it just dawned on me that it needs to just BE, stand-alone, unadorned. I truly appreciate your thoughtful and flattering critique!

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christopheranton 6 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom

Nellieanna. If you were making eggs instead of writing poems you would be called Karl Faberge. No more to be said. Thankyou.

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Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS Author

wow! Oh, if only. . . . - I passionately love those Faberge eggs. Just as well he makes them, not I, though! What a compliment!! Hugs.

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Christopher Price 6 years ago from Vermont, USA

While I hesitate to further elucidate, I just thought you'd like to know I am bookmarking this poem. It is something I want to save and treasure, and to which I want to have ready access.

Just sayin'!


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acaetnna 6 years ago from Guildford

You have a spectacular way of choosing the exact words to convey expression and wonder.

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Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS Author

Christopher - that is most gratifying. I'm pleased that you treasure my little poem.

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Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS Author

Acaetnna! Thank you so much! I must confess that the words just come to me, I seldom ponder over them. Thank you for the lovely praise.

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Mentalist acer 6 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

Alas I may not be aware of the Wren's true reality,but if everyone knew everything about all things,then surly bordom would be the result;)

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Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS Author

Mentalist, thank you for reading and commenting.

While Emily Dickinson is hardly an obscrure poet or figure in American literature, still -she may not be known to all students of literature, especially her personal story. Born in Amherst, Massachusetts in 1830, she lived till 1886, writing prolifcally some nearly 1800 poems and many incandescent letters to family and friends, but published only one or two poems early on and then shared only a few with a few close associates. After her death, a kinswoman began to publish a few of them and by 1932, a majority of them had been published through the efforts of competing members of her family and their progeny. She lived a private, removed, almost monastic life, tending her father's house, the gardens and her favorite pooch. She was well educated (her family founded Amherst University), extremely well-read and shy by nature and by choice.

I am very pleased you've read and hopefully - prevented boredom by it! You are one of my most ineresting people!

 6 years ago

OOPS - prolifcally = prolifically - :-)

DREAM ON profile image

DREAM ON 6 years ago

I love the picture and then the beautiful writing followed.What a way to start my day.Peaceful and content.

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Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS Author

I could not be more pleased than to be able to give you a good start of your Sunday, Dream On!! I suspect we're kindred spirits Yes, it s a peaceful and contented one here too!

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suziecat7 6 years ago from Asheville, NC

Wow - so much said in an economy of words. Just like Emily - also one of my favorites. Loved it.

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gr82bme 6 years ago from USA

I was up by six this morning, pulled the curtain back to watch the birds at the feeder. Loved the poem

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Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS Author

Suzie - I'm so pleased that you have come and read my tribute to ED. I have great respect for her followers! Welcome and thank you!

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Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS Author

Gr82bYou - Me too, up early, enjoying a new day. It was more a matter of watching the squirrels and being glad they were outside, having been rattling around in my walls earlier! LOL. So glad you loved the poem! Thank you!

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saddlerider1 6 years ago

Your words shared here again make my feathers ruffle in such a delightful way. What an eloquent tribute to your muse ED. I hope you are able to keep those squirrels at bay with the advancing winter. I love watching our birds and squirrels challenge each others perch. I really think they have an understanding our boundary crossings:0))

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daydreamer13 6 years ago

Beautiful! Just lovely!

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Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS Author

Thanks Ken. But my critters think this house IS part of their own boundaries. I love watching them outside. Need to post some pix I've snapped of the bold little things trying to outstare me from the tree out front or in the back. They KNOW me by my voice. I'm still shouting at them in an effort to stop their squirrel fights and chases in my wall, especially, - as well as any chewing on walls I hear. I'm sorely regretting not having followed through on my plan for getting their entry points closed up while it was really hot and before they began returning & searching out good places to be now. I had several obstacles in the way of it during the hot months & now whatever they were are multiplied by oncoming weather and the fact that the critters will have to be removed before any sealing up can be done. Not sure I can risk their being there for another winter, either. It is dangerous in more ways than one.

Thanks for the lovely appreciation of my tribute to ED!

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Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS Author

Thank you, Daydreamer!! Hugs.

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jill of alltrades 6 years ago from Philippines

What a lovely tribute to Emily Dickinson! I am sure she is smiling at your right now!

Voted up and beautiful!

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Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS Author

Thank you, Jill -written like an ED fan! :-) Very possibly she is. Thank you!

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Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

Every one of your poems are just incredibly wonderful. Thank you for giving so much pleasure.

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Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS Author

Hello, hello - thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 6 years ago from Wales

So beautifully done!!

Take care Nellieanna.

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Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS Author

Thank you Eiddwen - It's not difficult to write something beautiful about a beautiful entity like ED. She was deep and amazing.

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maven101 6 years ago from Northern Arizona

A very sweet and personal dedication...She was indeed a wren of enduring strength...Her poem " I bring an unaccustomed Wine ", offers these supremely passionate lines:

" The hands still hug the tardy glass;

The lips I would have cooled, alas!

Are so superfluous cold,

I would as soon attempt to warm

The bosoms where the frost has lain

Ages beneath the mould "...

Thank you for sharing your Emily with us...Larry

drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida

Lovely ... lyrical ... meaningful ... and memorable. Thank you, Nellieanna.

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Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS Author

Thank you, Maven.

The lines you include are lovely, both passionate and passionately resigned I think. Whether the lips "so superfluous cold" were her own or someone else's, the intensity of cold seems a dire obstacle for passion! Now that I think of it, they seem more to be someone else's and with her having the disadvantage with the "unaccustomed" wine - (whatever that was, probably her unfamiliar interaction with people) - she surely felt a kind of insurmountable futility for her passionate side.

She was so much more "accustomed" to the company of Carlo, her beloved dog, and her "home-like" garden. She told her cousin "I was reared in the garden, you know." I intensely visualize and sense her wandering happily around her garden. But of course, her fantasy life included so much more and It, too, seems astonishingly real to me.

I'm so pleased you enjoy this glimpsing.

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Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS Author

drbj - Thank YOU, dear lady. I deeply appreciate that!

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akirchner 6 years ago from Central Oregon

Nellieanna - It's so delicate and artistic - just like you are! Very beautifully done and I just love the simplicity of it. Many kudos.

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Doug Turner Jr. 6 years ago

I like how the wren is "lion-hearted". This is thoughtful and simple. I like it.

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Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS Author

Thanks, Audrey - I very much value your opinion!!

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Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS Author

Doug Turner, Jr - Pleased to meet you and welcome aboard, though I see you've done a lot in your short time already aboard. I peeked at your page and am eager to read more. Thank you for a lovely comment with a "straight-shooting" sound to it. I like that too!

She really WAS lion-hearted in her wren-like way! ;-)

Merlin Fraser profile image

Merlin Fraser 6 years ago from Cotswold Hills

To have something or someone to give you inspiration is a wonderful thing to have but in your case it seems you find inspiration from everything around you, no matter how tiny....and you use it to quietly inspire others.

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Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS Author

Thank, dear Merlin. I'm smiling at your play on "tiny". How often are the small things the most precious! Babies, gems, a rosebud, the golf ball compared to the course on which it's played. . . ! So it's what is bestows on something which raises its value for us. If something I've loved gives others pleasure - even vicarious pleasure - it is most gratifying! Hugs.

Merlin Fraser profile image

Merlin Fraser 6 years ago from Cotswold Hills

“Golf is a game whose aim is to hit a very small ball into an even smaller hole, with weapons singularly ill-designed for the purpose.”

Winston Churchill.

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Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS Author

I love it! In fact, it is ultra-timely and supremely descriptive and accurate!!

Winny might also have mentioned the absurdity of the "audiences" for the game who walk around for miles in order to silently watch the small balls be hit out of sight in hopes of landing in the neighborhood of said smaller hole, further miles on down the fairway, completely out of sight without another long trek to the site of the landings.

No wonder human beings love that game! It has all the tags of that which fascinate and entice our jaded senses.

It was one of the two-to-five most favorite things on earth for my George. Another was fishing. See a pattern there?

Thanks for the fun reminder! Hugs!

Merlin Fraser profile image

Merlin Fraser 6 years ago from Cotswold Hills

Have you also noticed a new brand of idiot who has been spawned by the advent of spectator Golf.....?

Found all over the Globe, He can be heard in any crowd shouting, "Get In The Hole !" Immediately after the player has struck the ball irrespective of the distance to the hole !!!!

However, the most famous quote from a Golfer when asked by the Club Professional if he had had a good round !

"Good Round be damned Sir ! The only two good balls I struck all day 'twas when I stood upon a bunker rake at the seventh...."

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Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS Author

Yikes, Merlin. No, I didn't see that. Disappointing! I've always believed - and George always mentioned - that golf is the most civilized of all sports and that the spectators are the most respectful! How tragic if the general barbarian attitudes and creeping mongrelization of all that has been honorable is tainted even down to the golf courses. Horrid!!

Well, even so -it's is still only oneself who oneself can control and improve. And every self who does helps the whole that much more -as well as every one who succumbs and joins in the barbarism relinquishes that much honor and good example.

sigh . . .

Cantuhearmescream profile image

Cantuhearmescream 3 years ago from New York

Dearest Nellieanna,

Just when I thought you couldn't possibly get anymore interesting! I've taken every advantage of delving into anything and everything ED when I had her work at my disposal back in college, but I am truly envious how much you have learned and now know about her. Perhaps this will inspire me to seek and find!

'Tiny Messenger' - That is perfect, I just absolutely adored it! I wouldn't have immediately thought so, but I can see an uncanny resemblance between you and the great Emily.

Impressed and awed, as always!



Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS Author

My dear Cat! I, too, am reawakened to go back and resume my study of this amazing mind. I've not read all her work and it continues to fascinate me.

She really was - and perhaps still is - quite ahead of her time in many respects. Perhaps by physically retiring from the world around her, she escaped the confines of time! Maybe she hopped on a Time-Travel Express!

As much (and as little) as has been gleaned about her work, her life, and her extraordinary intellect, it is somehow overlooked in its real essence, is my sense of her. She must have realized how unique and unusual she truly was, and must have simultaneously realized how unready for her were the times in which she lived! So she tucked her gems away, rather than squander them too soon.

Anyway, - I'm much more than slightly pleased that you find my treatment of her interesting, since I do understand that she has held deep interest for you for quite a long while! So thank you!!

Cantuhearmescream profile image

Cantuhearmescream 3 years ago from New York


It makes me wonder if it wasn't the simpler times that she existed in that didn't help to keep her mind free from all the jargon that exists today and allow her to write so freely. Yet, she seemed to have almost 'stirred up' the simplicity and then as you said, kept it quite hidden. I could say that she had a deep psychological connection... soul, heart... something! She was truly wise beyond her years in many respects, yet I can't help but feel some tremendous sadness around her. If she could only be a fly on the wall of Literature courses today... I bet she'd write a whole new kind of piece! What do you suppose she'd be like today... what an interesting concept! (I'm not sure if anything I've said has made any sense and if not, I apologize :D ..... I suppose it's the ponderings of Emily Dickenson that push me a little more out there :-)

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Nellieanna 3 years ago from TEXAS Author

If nothing else, her choice of lifestyle set up the most amazing ponderings for her and continues to set them up for those of us who have probed into her inner workings!

I doubt if she considered that or consciously set out to make herself an icon, but it certainly adds to her mystique and keeps one probing in hopes of gaining more insight. I get glimpses which almost seem like being admitted into the inner-sanctum of her being, but then I read something else of her poetry and letters which adds yet another nuance or dimension to it and I realize how much more there is to seek.

Obviously the freedom in her quiet world was a factor, and it was one which I truly shared in many years of my first marriage when I was literally cut off from all the good and bad of the outside world. There is a kind of pristine purity and simplicity to it of which I was very much aware when I stopped to think about it. I'd never had a lot of freedom and interaction with all that was going on, but enough to compare when I had almost none. I could feel it keenly in my ability to get directly to the core of the thoughts that propelled me to write, without needing to trudge through contrivances and artificial filters. I think it turns out to be the hallmark of my poetry of that period, in fact.

I have truly thought about what she'd be like today - and in the todays I've known! I think she'd be philosophic, a little private still, but very aware of all that was going on, with her own kind of clarity and unique insight about it. She'd write as it came to her, as she'd done then, but how it came to her would be - how it came, as it had come to her then, except it would be now.

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