EMILY DICKINSON AND SAM, THE MASTER
Emily Dickinson wrote,
"A little Madness in the Spring,
Is wholesome even for the King...."
So, Dickinsonians worldwide wish to be worldwise and want to know,
who was her masculine "King"? In *capital letters,* she gave
us her *Master's* name, in the first line of poem 1333, in a letter
of many, at least one hundred or more now known, that she sent
her confidante Elizabeth Holland, her friend of the years and her
go-between who lived nearby *him* in Springfield, Massachusetts,
since at least 1852, three years prior to the start of the bulk of
her love poems:
and what of this "Madness" in "Spring" they brought to each other?
Some call it *LOVE*!!! Sort of accounts for the secret love poems.
Sort of accounts for the *S-I-M-P-L-I-C-I-T-Y* of her easily seen
encryption of the name of her secret love!
You know what irks some fans and some students of Dickinson?
It is that it took Bill Arnold, Dickinson scholar, only one little
book called *Emily Dickinson's Secret Love: Mystery *Master* Behind
Poems to turn their faulty world interpretations of her poems upside
down. Well, too bad! That is the way Emily Dickinson wrote her writings,
with her one thousand secret love poems, prominent, front and
center, and she could care less if the rest of the world is hot and
bothered, and breathing hard. Too bad, too bad, too bad, she said.
You know she wrote that poem about a worm on a string in her
bedroom which turned into an erect talking snake and had no qualms
about offering it to the world as one of her premiere presentations
of her SAM B artistic cryptology poems! It's Poem 1670 (Johnson) in
case you missed it, and note that her best girlfriend Elizabeth Holland's
grandaughter was editor of that edition, and had no qualms about it.
Check it out, folks!
It is interesting when one looks at Dickinson's writings in toto
one finds that she clearly conveyed who her secret love was.
In any court of law, any jury basing their decision on the
written documentary evidence in Emily Dickinson's own writings,
would conclude beyond a "reasonable doubt" that Samuel Bowles
was her secret love and the masculine "Sir/Sire/Master" behind
all her love poems, circa one thousand!
The fact that she embedded these facts of her life in her writings,
also found in circa one thousand letters, many to "Him" as well,
and took the extraordinary *S-T-E-P-S* over her entire life to
encypher SAM B letters, and all in capital letters, to make it
crystal clear she intended for them to stand out, leaves only
the inescapable conclusion that she intended for posterity to
*KNOW* ! So, who are we to deny her *authorial intention*?
Take note in the following poem which was written in 1862
that she wrote *words* which she used in letters and letter-poems
to Samuel Bowles in the very *SAME* year and which undeniably
demonstrate he was the *Master* !
Poem 640 below clearly invokes while he is away at sea her
fear that "were You lost" while they were "Oceans" apart that
she would implore "heaven" on his behalf. No doubt the very
same thoughts were imparted in Poem 226 which is not really
a poem apart but part of a letter to Samuel Bowles, Letter 249,
in which she calls herself "your *Queen*--Mr. Bowles." So, who
among the world of Dickinson scholars doubts Samuel Bowles
was the *Master*? Well, none who can read! And why would she not
be *Queen* to the *Master Plantagenet King*? After all, it is not
our surmise but the *W-O-R-D-S* of Dickinson!
She wrote, in part, in that letter, what has been divorced from her
recipient by ill-advised editors in creating the host of her poems when
in fact many were letters, to Samuel Bowles: "Should you but fail
at--Sea--In sight of me--or doomed lie--next Sun--to die--Or rap--at
Paradise--unheard --I'd *harass* God--Until he let you in!" Oh, yes,
this woman who knew the meaning of words, wrote to Sam B, in this very
same Letter 249, "My Love is my only apology...I have met--no others."
Sounds like *Love* to me! if it sounds like a "Homesick...Housewife,"
and if it writes like a "Homesick...Housewife," then it must *BE* a
"Homesick...Housewife." Make that [sic] also on the word *Love* which
she herself capitalized in her letter to Samue Bowles!
Poem 640 (Johnson) was "written" by Emily Dickinson,
manufactured into booklet 9, circa 1862. Emily Dickinson
placed it into a series of her love letters to the world,
and made it explicit the "Master" was not Jesus, and yet
the poem clearly is about her masculine "Sir/Master:"
I cannot live with You--
It would be Life--
And Life is over there--
Behind the Shelf
The Sexton keeps the Key to--
Our Life--His Porcelain--
Like a Cup--
Discarded of the Housewife--
A newer Sevres pleases--
Old Ones crack--
I could not die--with You--
For One must wait
To shut the Otherâs Gaze downâ"
And I--Could I stand by
And see You--freeze--
Without my Right of Frost--
Nor could I rise--with You--
Because Your Face
Would put out Jesusâ--
That New Grace
Glow plain--and foreign
On my homesick Eye--
Except that You than He
Shone closer by--
Theyâd judge Usâ"-How--
For You--served Heaven--You know,
Or sought to--
I could not--
Because You saturated Sight--
And I had no more Eyes
For sordid excellence
And were You lost, I would be--
Though My Name
On the Heavenly fame--
And were You--saved--
And I--condemned to be
Where You were not--
That self--were Hell to Me--
So We must meet apart--
With just the Door ajar
That Oceans are--and Prayer--
And that White Sustenance--
No doubt, for Dickinsonians, this poem will ring true for the Truth
of 1862, when she and her Master, Samuel Bowles, were "Oceans...apart,"
he in Europe and she in Amherst, and she already dressed in white, hidden
behind doors, so that when he returned that fall, Emily Dickinson was
already in selcusion.
We are still on square one: love :)
MFA, U-Mass, Amherst
Independent Scholar, Modern Language Association
Professor of world literature classics
Author, EMILY DICKINSON'S SECRET LOVE: Mystery "Master" Behind Poems,
230 pages, 1998.
"There is magic in the web" Shakespeare (Othello, Act 3, Scene 4)