8. The Homestead: Front Facade and Emily Dickinson

A photograph depicts the side view of front of a two-story yellow brick house. The door way is reached by four steps and a wrought iron railing. It is framed by a pediment and two white columns. It is spring: cherry trees boom in the background.

You are now in front of the Homestead. The granite steps and the walk that lead to the Homestead’s front door are the same that visitors to the house used when Emily Dickinson and her family lived here. Two huge white pine trees, now gone, grew on either side of the walk and were as tall as the house in Emily’s day.


By my Window have I for Scenery

Just a Sea - with a Stem -

If the Bird and the Farmer - deem it a “Pine” -

The Opinion will do - for them -

(Fr 849)


If you look at the front of the house, you’ll see Emily Dickinson’s bedroom windows on the second floor on the left. She wrote many of her poems at a cherry table in that room.  As she looked out her window, she could watch passersby on Main Street or gaze at the Dickinson meadow and across it to the large brick building of the Hills Hat Factory and even beyond to the Pelham hills. There might have been a glimpse of a plume of smoke from the steam locomotive pulling trains along the track that curved away to the south of the meadow. She might have smiled, knowing that her father’s lobbying efforts brought the railroad to Amherst in 1853.

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Here is Dickinson’s well known poem about the train:


I like to see it lap the Miles -

And lick the Valleys up -

And stop to feed itself at Tanks -

And then - prodigious step


Around a Pile of Mountains -

And supercilious peer

In Shanties - by the sides of Roads -

And then a Quarry pare


To fit it's sides

And crawl between

Complaining all the while

In horrid - hooting stanza -

Then chase itself down Hill -


And neigh like Boanerges -

Then - prompter than a Star

Stop - docile and omnipotent

At it's own stable door -


(F383)

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