When I decided to embark on this year long exploration into Emily Dickinson, I knew that it was not to be an academic exercise. Nor am I trying to uncover all of the hidden meanings of her poetry thus offering a new twist on her life story.

No, I just want to let her poetry speak to me the way that living words always do and be a guide as I am “out with lanterns looking for myself.”

To that end I am taking her poem titled “Exclusion” as my starting place. I know to really open myself up to this process, extraneous voices will need to be shut out for a time. And as I am working primarily on setting boundaries with the help of my therapist, it seems like an appropriate place to start in the creative life as well.

The soul selects her own society,

Then shuts the door;

on her divine majority

Obtrude no more.

Unmoved, she notes the chariot’s pausing

At her low gate;

Unmoved, an emperor is kneeling

Upon her mat.

I’ve known her from an ample nation

Choose one;

Then close the valves of her attention

Like stone.

Wishing you strength to shut out what is not helpful to allow more room for life-giving ways.


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