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Rosie’s Story: Emily Dickinson Friday, 12 March 2010

Posted by edincityoflit in Stories.

Growing up in a small, safe but dull place, I always dreamed of travelling. Through books, I journeyed to all kinds of worlds and challenging new situations.

When I grew up, I travelled around the world, living in different countries for several years. Wherever I went, when I felt lonely or disorientated I would drop into public libraries to send email home, enjoy the air conditioning and flick through books.

In a New Zealand library I was flicking through a book and came across this poem by Emily Dickinson:

There is no Frigate like a Book
To take us Lands away
Nor any Coursers like a Page
Of prancing Poetry —
This Traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of Toll —
How frugal is the Chariot
That bears the Human soul.

I experienced that reading sensation which the teacher Hector describes in Alan Bennett’s The History Boys:

“The best moments in reading are when you come across something – a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things – that you’d thought special, particular to you. And here it is, set down by someone else, a person you’ve never met, maybe even someone long dead. And it’s as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.”

I committed the poem to memory and have been delighted by it ever since.


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