The Dandelion’s pallid tube
Astonishes the Grass,
And Winter instantly becomes
An infinite Alas –
The tube uplifts a signal Bud
And then a shouting Flower, –
The Proclamation of the Suns
That sepulture is o’er.
Dandelions seem an unlikely choice of flower to grow at the New York Botanical Gardens, but poet Emily Dickinson felt a kinship to what many consider to be a weed. Dandelions and other blossoms are now on display in “The Poetry of Flowers”, an exhibition that features Dickinson’s poems and the garden that influenced her work.
Emily Dickinson’s Home: Inspiration at Every Turn
The exhibition brings Emily Dickinson’s garden to life, and although there are no known photographs of what the garden may have looked like, historians have use Dickinson’s writings and materials to reveal a breathtaking and enchanting landscape created in the spirit and passion of an artist. Included in the show, is a replica of the Emily Dickinson home in Amherst, Massachussetts that features a depiction of the poets bedroom. The view from the bedroom window frames Emily Dickinson’s garden and gives insight into the visual inspiration the garden gave her from the tiny room where she wrote. Across from the Emily Dickinson home, sits her brother’s house. Situated between the two homes is a wooded path, which Dickinson referred to as being “just wide enough for two who loved”. Visitors can walk the path as she would have walked it, surrounded by an abundance of seasonal flowers.
Emily Dickinson Flowers: Finding Meaning and Symbolism
To her neighbors and friends, Dickinson wasn’t considered a poet at all, but was looked upon as a fantastic gardener. Gardens were labor intensive and one needed to have a deep understanding of how to sow seeds, trim, cut and split plants and the flowers needed to be constantly tended to. Dickinson loved getting her hands dirty and she submersed herself in the simplicity and tranquility of the flowers. Gifting flowers was a way for Dickinson to maintain her friendships, and she often tucked poems into the bouquets she gave. For her, flowers were symbolic. They represented individual experience and the notion of eternal restoration. To Emily Dickinson, flowers possessed a sort of immortal quality, particularly the ever present dandelion. With so much death in her life, the garden became a means of pure enjoyment and eternal cultivation.
Emily Dickinson: In a World of Her Own
Like Dickinson herself, her poetry was unique and unusual for the era. She rarely titled her poems and most contain short phrases, slant rhyme and non-conventional punctuation and capitalization. Her poems, like her breathtaking garden have their own beat – they sway and twirl.
Take a walk at The New York Botanical Gardens, through the Emily Dickinson garden, past the peony hedges, the butterflies, the scented exotic flowers, and the array of her favorite flowers: daises, day lilies, tulips, roses, and jasmine. Stroll up the wooden path past the Dickinson’s homes, and find yourself back in a time when each flower held its own special meaning.
As her legacy of being one of the most important American Poets of all time continues, so too will her legacy live on as a talented gardener, botany specialist and lover and appreciator of flowers.
The New York Botanical Garden Emily Dickinson Exhibition
“The Poetry of Flowers” runs through June 13th with a marathon reading of Dickinson’s poems on June 12th & 13th. In addition to the replicas of the homes, a digital version of Dickinson’s herbarium, which contains over 400 of her plant specimen collection, is available on touch screen monitors and poetry stations are set-up along the walkway featuring 35 of her poems with mobile phone access to readings of the poems and mini-lectures about Emily Dickinson’s flowers and her writings. For more information, please visit The New York Botanical G ardens.