15. The Evergreens: Hedge, Fence, and Terrace

Photograph of a slatted wooden fence with stately pedestal. The fence is coated in a thick layer of snow. Behind it is a snowy hedge of hemlocks.

Look down the steps toward Main Street. From this vantage point, you can see the two terraces that raised the elevation of the house so that the Evergreens would benefit from views and breezes. The terraces gave the house a fine aspect: from the Evergreens you could see and be seen.

 

You will also notice the row of hemlocks that lines the front of the property. This row was once a close hedge of moderate height, faced by a painted picket fence. It outlined the property, extending in front of the Homestead and turning the Triangle Street corner. Decorative gates opened on to the walks; functional ones on to the carriage drives. Both Edward and Austin Dickinson were particular about the gates being kept closed.

 

We know when the hedge was first planted, thanks to Emily’s voluminous correspondence. Visiting her cousins in Cambridge in the spring of 1865, Emily wrote to her sister back at home,


I hope the Chimneys are done and the Hemlocks set, and the Two Teeth filled, in the Front yard - How astonishing it will be to me. (L308)

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This poem about an internal struggle seems to be played out in a setting not unlike the scene before you: 


The spry Arms of the Wind

If I could crawl between

I have an errand imminent

To an adjoining Zone -

I should not care to stop,

My Process is not long

The Wind could wait without the Gate

Or stroll the Town among.


To ascertain the House

And is the Soul at Home

And hold the Wick of mine to it

To light, and then return -


(F802)

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