“Sweet Hours Have Perished Here”

Today’s first line comes from one of the earliest collections of Emily’s poetry published in 1896, 10 years after Emily’s death, by Mabel Loomis Todd, a family friend and also the mistress of Emily’s brother, Austin. Thomas H. Johnson published the entirety of Dickinson’s poems in 1955 and numbered them according to his judgment of chronology.

The original poem is just four lines and is said to be about her bedroom, where she spent most of her life and where the shadows certainly would have increased as she faced ill health in her last days.

Sweet hours have perished here;

   This is a mighty room;

Within its precincts hopes have played,-

   Now shadows in the tomb.

Emily Dickinson 

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I took the first line and reflected on my childhood, when books and writing were personal havens for me. Long after I should have been, I could almost always be found under the covers writing or between the covers of a book, being whisked off to an imaginary place I was reading about, or coveting some snippet of knowledge I had to sneak to learn. Indeed, it was my happy place and the hours that passed on there were never mourned.

From March- August you can even spend an hour or two in Emily’s own “mighty room”, which has been preserved in the Dickinson family home in Amherst, Massachusetts. Click this link for details. (It’s definitely on my Post-Covid Bucket List!)

https://www.emilydickinsonmuseum.org/studio-session-request-form/

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