Guests in Eden


As a neighbor, "within the hedge", I have enjoyed knowing Martha Bianchi for over a quarter of a century. And I have loved her, for among her many gifts, friendship was not the least. Her winters were often spent abroad but, in the spring she would return with the robins, and then we would have our pleasant tea parties and evenings of bridge.

Martha shone as a hostess. Her guests would be moved about at the proper moment, subjects of conversation sug­gested with a word as, "You were asking about so and so, Mr.-- can tell you all about it", etc. It made us happy that she did not resent having us come as strangers into her grandparents' home.* She was full of sentiment, and it would not have been an easy thing for her to face. In my copy of her book on her Aunt Emily she has written, "Her feet within my garden go", and below she has added, "Aunt Emily would have loved you in her footsteps, as I have. Yours for us both, Martha Gilbert Dickinson Bianchi."

Once she gave me a page of Emily's own writing, a short poem [POEMS--CENTENARY EDITION, p. 254],

"Immured in Heaven.
What a cell!
Let every bondage be,
Thou sweetest of the universe,
Like that which ravished thee.

This to me suggests that Emily knew the joy of being im­prisoned in a lover's arms, even though that lover was re­nounced.

Spring does not seem quite the same without Martha coming back with the robins.


* The house on Main Street, Amherst, in which Emily Dickinson was born and died, is now owned and occupied by Rev. and Mrs. Hervey C. Parke.

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Martha Nell Smith, all rights reserved.
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Last updated on March 10, 2008

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