So you can read my books

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


I was sitting alone at my table in the darkened Meilori's. The light of my laptop showed the dismal numbers of those who have bought my books this month.

Fingertips pressed softly on my shoulder.  "May this wayward soul sit down?"

I looked up.  Emily Dickinson, dressed in a black Victorian dress, stood smiling sadly at me.

Her voice was gentle, low, and caring.  I smiled back.  "Of course."

I got up and pulled out the chair for her.  She flowed down into as lady-like ghosts often do here at Meilori's.

As I sat back down, Emily slid a small volume to me.  Its cover was dark and light lavender.  Its simple title: POEMS ~ Emily Dickinson.

"This first volume of my poetry appeared on this day in 1890, two years after my death.  My early editors, the critic Thomas Higginson and family friend Mabel Loomis Todd, made many changes in an effort to make my poems more 'conventional,' but these had not allayed the priggish critics."

 Emily picked up the volume from in front of me and read one of her "versicles" as her critics called them:

"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.

Emily withdrew a folded newspaper clipping from her dress pocket.
"I told others that my critics bothered me not.  But here is the lie: this aged review by Thomas Bailey Aldrich from THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY of January, 1892.  It reads as follows:
'But the incoherence and formlessness of her — I don't know how to designate them — versicles are fatal….
An eccentric, dreamy, half-educated recluse in an out-of-the-way New England village (or anywhere else) cannot with impunity set at defiance the laws of gravitation and grammar.'"
Her hand gently covered mine.  "You are of worth, young sir, because you care.  Your prose is of worth if only one soul is uplifted because of it."
Emily smiled, “I know nothing in the world that has as much power as a word. Sometimes I write one, and I look at it, until it begins to shine.  I read one of yours and it does the same."
Her eyes sparkled,   “We turn not older with years but newer every day.  You are newer today than yesterday for you have suffered, you have learned -- so you are a new you."

The ghost of Mark Twain sat down beside me with a laugh.

  "Besides, son, where are those critics of Miss Dickinson here now?  Who do folks remember?  Emily Dickinson or that Thomas Bailey Aldrich?"
He winked at Emily who blushed, and he grinned,
"I believe that the trade of critic, in literature, music, and the drama, is the most degraded of all trades, and that it has no real value--certainly no large value...
However, let it go. It is the will of God that we must have critics, and missionaries, and congressmen, and humorists, and we must bear the burden."
Emily scolded him.  "That is all very well and good, Samuel, but what about your feelings for poor Miss Jane Austen?"
Mark looked like he had bitten into a slug.  "Agh!  You're right, of course.  I haven't any right to criticize books.  And I don't do except when I hate them!"
He rubbed his face. 

"I often want to criticize Jane Austen it is true.  But, Lordy, her books madden me so that I can't conceal my frenzy from the reader.  Therefore I have to stop every time I begin."
He took out a cigar and lit it as Emily's nose wrinkled in distaste and went on, "Everytime I read PRIDE AND PREJUDICE I want to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone!" 
Emily gently removed the cigar from his mouth, putting it out defiantly.  "It is so heartening to see how you have mellowed with age, Samuel."
He glared at me.  "Now, you see why gentlemen are a dying breed, Roland."
"Or at least a smokeless one," I smiled.


  1. I liked the interplay between Emily and Mark. Made me chuckle.

  2. D.G.:
    Appears you are my last friend. No one else visits. :-(

    Makes me glad that you are, indeed, my friend. :-)

    Yes, this post was also fun to write. I am never alone at Meilori's.

    You should read the interplay between Twain and Wilde! The Braggart and the Peacock as a smug Egyptian official calls them.

    Don't worry. Samuel McCord taught him manners. :-)

  3. I think Alex is away, he mentioned taking some time off in his last post, and there is a huge jousting blogfest going on (at MPax's). I'm not doing any fests right now, since I'm still working on my WIPs. I usually do try to check on my fave blogs, though.

    Have you named that cat?

  4. D.G.:
    Yes, Alex is on vacation. I did not know about Mary's blogfest. Thanks for checking in on me. :-)

    The children at this apartment complex named the cat Snowball for his champagne color. Since the owner who abandoned him had another name for him, I figured a third name would just confuse him. So his is Snowball, the vagabond prince -- who can't seem to use the litter box every time. He misfires just enough to drive me crazy and keep him in the twin bathrooms!

    Snowball says what I am doing is against the Geneva Convention -- quite loudly in fact! :-)