On Emily Dickinson's social life
On an evening when seven people each talked for seven minutes about some aspect of isolation, I chose to speak about a well known yet nonetheless difficult poem by Emily Dickinson.
There is a solitude of space
A solitude of sea
A solitude of death, but these
Society shall be
Compared with that profounder site
That polar privacy
A soul admitted to itself —
“A soul admitted to itself —” is an astonishingly complicated phrase, and in my little talk I invite someone (you may not be able to hear her) to respond to the various senses here of “admitted” (and admission as acceptance, membership, open-ness and confession). I believe that Dickinson turns around loneliness almost entirely here. A much “profounder” sense of solitude is that of the self with itself, self as company (“Society”). Gives a whole new meaning to the oft-used but little understand word “social.