Circumference: Emily’s Legacy of Ecstasy

Emily called herself a wren, and wrote about a hummingbird, and many other things …

Spectral Lyre

In July, 1862, Thomas Wentworth Higginson, then a resident of Worcester, Massachusetts, received a letter from a young woman from Amherst. Below are some excerpts from the letter:

I had no portrait, now, but am small, like the wren; and my hair is bold, like the chestnut bur; and my eyes, like the sherry in the glass, that the guest leaves. Would this do just as well?  

If you truly consent, I recite now. Will you tell me my fault, frankly as to yourself, for I had rather wince than die. Men do not call the surgeon to commend the bone, but to set it, sir, and fracture within is more critical. And for this, preceptor, I shall bring you obedience, the blossom from my garden, and every gratitude I know.  

Perhaps you smile at me. I could not stop for that. My business is circumference.

In October, 1891, an article…

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