Guests in Eden


I knew Madame Bianchi only during the last three years of her life, so cannot be qualified to speak as an old acquaintance. During those long summer seasons she spent in Amherst, how­ ever, I spent many happy evenings with her working on the last manuscript.

I worked in the Emily Dickinson Room surrounded by the portraits, the tea set, the silver, and other treasures until I be­ came quite steeped in "Emily" atmosphere and began to feel that "Emily" belonged even to me-just a little.

We usually worked for about two hours. I typed the manu­script, with Madame to interpret when the scrawl was illegible. It was truly a pleasure, for her ability to express herself seemed to me unusual. We often stopped to discuss Emily when points would arouse my curiosity, so I felt that I benefited more than she from my evenings of so-called work. After the two hours I must always stop and go into the library for a visit-the dessert of the evening. Then how we would talk! And she had that knack of making one feel that his opinion was of importance also. So conversation with her was a mental stimulus. Those cutting little comments with which she could round off a situation, or an individual, delighted me. The world was in a sad state then-1941, 1942-so the comments of a true cosmopolitan were most enlightening.

My main memory of Madame Bianchi will always be one of youth. She was so alert, so alive. Her entire mental atti­tude was that of a young person. One never thought of her in terms of age. "Ageless" would be a most appropriate term for her.


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Transcription and commentary copyright 2000 by
Martha Nell Smith, all rights reserved.
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Last updated on March 10, 2008

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