“The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience.”
– Emily Dickinson
A few months ago I took down my collection of Emily Dickinson’s poetry – a brick-like tome that boasts it is “the only one-volume edition containing all 1,775” poems – and was saddened to discover that her words didn’t speak to me at all. I am poetry-phobic as a rule, and counted Dickinson and A.A. Milne as the only two poets I whose work I understood. I re-shelved the book with a sigh and decided that I must now be too old to enjoy her.
So imagine my delight when actress Mari Andrejco ushered me and the rest of the audience in to the Performance Barn at Triple Shadow and reintroduced me to my old friend, Emily Dickinson. I was so glad to meet her again! She hadn’t abandoned me after all, and, if I could, I would have run to embrace her. After listening to just the first few lines of The Belle of Amherst tears were running down my cheeks as I remembered how much Dickinson’s writing had influenced me as a young woman. It was a very happy homecoming.
I do not know how it is possible, with all the theatre that I see, that I hadn’t seen The Belle of Amherst since I saw Julie Harris in the original Broadway production in 1976. This summer, as fate will have it, I will see and review it twice, the second time on August 27 at The Church of St. John in the Wilderness in Copake Falls, NY, in a Taconic Stage Company production.