“Earth is crammed with heaven.” ~ Emily Dickinson
Hello Spring, is that really you?
Today we’re greeting the somewhat reluctant, much-awaited season of renewal, rebirth, and regrowth with a little help from esteemed poet Emily Dickinson.
I’m sure you know she was fond of sending friends and acquaintances fragrant bouquets with notes or verses tucked in them, sometimes with a gift of food.
What could be sweeter than homemade gingerbread or coconut cake, nasturtiums and peonies from her garden, and a heartfelt verse she’d penned just for you?
Though she may have eschewed personal contact with people outside the family, Emily was able to sustain longstanding friendships and express romantic inclinations on her own terms. She cultivated and excelled in all three of these pursuits — gardening, baking, writing — as a normal course of each day, all of them requiring practiced skill, time and devotion.
According to Judith Farr’s The Gardens of Emily Dickinson (Harvard University Press, 2004), over a third of her poems and nearly half of her letters “allude with passionate intensity to her favorite wildflowers, to traditional blooms like the daisy or gentian, and to the exotic gardenias and jasmines of her conservatory.”
In accordance with the prevailing floral language of her time, Emily associated various flowers with certain friends, family members and lovers. Her beloved blooms inspired metaphors, gave her images, “themes, narrative tropes, and an elaborate and rich language that related her to other artists.”
Indeed, Emily called her poems “blossoms of the brain,” and not surprisingly, she was more widely known in her village as a gardener than a poet. Enjoy this little bouquet of poesy and posies reminiscent of Emily’s garden at the Dickinson Homestead in Amherst, Massachusetts. (Click images for web sources.)
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I’M SPRING, WHO ARE YOU?
If we love Flowers, are we not ‘born again’ every Day . . .
(to Mrs. George S. Dickerman, 1886)
Perhaps you’d like to buy a flower?
But I could never sell.
If you would like to borrow
Until the daffodil
Unties her yellow bonnet
Beneath the village door,
Until the bees, from clover rows
Their hock and sherry draw,
Why, I will lend until just then,
But not an hour more!
The Dandelion’s pallid Tube
Astonishes the Grass –
And Winter instantly becomes
An infinite Alas –
The Tube uplifts a signal Bud
And then a shouting Flower –
The Proclamation of the suns
That sepulture is o’er –
The Daisy follows soft the Sun –
And when his golden walk is done –
Sits shily at his feet –
He – waking – finds the flower there –
Wherefore – Marauder – art thou here?
Because, Sir, love is sweet!
We are the flower – Thou the Sun!
Forgive us, if as days decline –
We nearer steal to Thee!
Enamored of the parting West –
The peace – the flight – the amethyst –
Upon a Lilac Sea
To toss incessantly
His Plush Alarm
Who fleeing from the Spring
The Spring avenging fling
To Dooms of Balm
SEPAL, petal, and a thorn
Upon a common summer’s morn,
A flash of dew, a bee or two,
A caper in the trees, —
And I’m a rose!
I hide myself within my flower,
That fading from your Vase,
You, unsuspecting, feel for me —
Almost a loneliness.
“There is no conceivable beauty of blossom so beautiful as words — none so graceful, none so perfumed.” ~ Thomas Wentworth Higginson
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RICE CAKES AND TEA
We’re serving a special tea today called “Emily’s Garden Jasmine,” a poetic blend of green tea with floral notes of jasmine, chamomile and sweet leaf.
It’s part of Steep Show Teas’ “Literary Collection,” flavors which are meant to evoke the spirits of some of the world’s finest writers including Jane Austen, Edgar Allan Poe, Oscar Wilde, Shakespeare, and Walt Whitman. Each of these loose leaf blends is beautifully packaged with a portrait of the author and an excerpt of his/her writing.
Steep Show Teas is owned by poet and art historian Diane Shipley deCillis and her husband Lou, a professional chef. You may remember when I shared Diane’s delectable “Opera Buffa” and her recipe for Panna Cotta. Isn’t it wonderful how they’ve merged a fine arts palette with a culinary arts palate in the name of unique teas and tisanes?
Today’s Rice Cakes are a family recipe that’s included in a pamphlet available from the Dickinson Museum called Emily Dickinson: Profile of the Poet as Cook.
Rice Cakes were saved and served to guests who dropped in for tea, and Emily also sent these to her future sister-in-law Sue Gilbert when she was teaching in Baltimore.
They have a delicate flavor and are a simple gluten-free treat to enjoy while sipping tea and reading Emily’s poems.
- 1 cup ground rice (rice flour)
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 spoonful milk with 1/4 teaspoon soda
- flavor to suit (teaspoon mace or nutmeg)
Cream butter. In a separate bowl beat eggs. Add sugar to eggs. Gently blend with butter. Add remaining ingredients. Bake in an 8 x 8 square pan at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.
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ANOTHER SIP, ANOTHER BITE
- Read about Emily’s baking, her famous Black Cake and gingerbread, and her propensity for drafting poems in the kitchen in this previous post.
- At the Steep Show Teas website, check out the other special lines featuring artists, musicians, European royalty and herbal teas and tisanes for Body, Mind and Spirit.
- Visit the Dickinson Museum website for interesting details about Emily’s Cooking and Garden.
- View a gallery of the 2010 New York Botanical Gardens Exhibit on Dickinson’s Garden.
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GOOD TO KNOW
♥ Miss Emily, a brand new middle grade verse novel by Amherst author, teacher, and Homestead volunteer Burleigh Mutén, is officially hitting shelves on Tuesday, March 25, 2014. Pleased to announce that Burleigh has agreed to drop by soon to tell us all about her wonderful book!
♥ I will be posting a roundup of 2014 Poetry Month Kidlitosphere Events here at Alphabet Soup. If you are doing something special and would like to be included, please email me: readermail (at) jamakimrattigan (dot) com. I will be updating the Roundup throughout the month of April. Please help spread the word. Thanks!
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The warm, lovely and talented Julie Larios is hosting the Roundup at The Drift Record. Take her a couple of rice cakes and enjoy all the delicious poetic offerings in the blogsophere this week. Are you wearing white?
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This post is also being linked to Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking, where all are invited to share their food-related posts.
Copyright © 2014 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.