One of the most prevalent themes in Emily Dickinson’s poetry is that of Circumference. There are a multitude of theories as to what the poet meant by the use of this word. Here is a detailed and well researched article that has opened it up for me just a bit. I really think it would take me at least another year to start to grasp her meaning, it is that fascinating.
However, when I started my year long Emily project, known to me in my cheekier moments as “Emmie and Emily,” I determined that I would follow how the language of her poetry spoke to me rather than trying to nail down a scholarly application.
Circumference, to me, is a vast land. There is a safe boundary, but also an unfathomable depth, height, and width. There are limits because we are finite in this space, although we have our being in eternity as well. In psychological terms, circumference speaks of the sacred container of the self that Rockelle Lerner so eloquently describes in her incredible book about boundaries, Living in the Comfort Zone.
So why would I pattern my whole creativity process and teaching of art after this concept? Because by recognizing my limitations and focusing on the here and now I have learned to live deeper, to create more, to tap into a fuller knowledge of myself and the love of the Divine. In a letter to her friend T.W. Higginson, Dickinson said that her “business was Circumference, and I share that mission in my own small way.
In a wonderful reflection on her blog, Rochelle Cecil says: “Circumference is the place of ultimate home. It is the place where one feels completely free, where one can express anything and everything. Circumference is knowing that all is within the grasp of one’s hand and one is not idle in pursuing it. Emily Dickinson said that her business was circumference, her business was to help others understand this vast boundlessness that she was searching for. She wanted to understand and receive circumference, and she wanted to bring you into it.”
That is my prayer with this new chapter of my art studio and practice: to go deeper into the arts and life itself by starting small and making a safe space within and without to explore and express. My thought is to share experiences and knowledge that will help others enter into the circle of their own selves and creativity in a meaningful way.
Further up and further in,
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