Guests in Eden

was in the launching of the Emily Dickinson renascence. Whether it would ever have been launched by others, in later years and in other ways, is at least uncertain. She lived to see her gifted aunt internationally accepted as at least a minor classic.

Madame Bianchi maintained the high spirit of her Dickin­son forebears unto the end. She dramatized herself and her surroundings and her mission with memorable success. A citizen of the world, she never ceased to be a resident of her native town, serving this community in real if not always pre­dictable ways. Her enthusiasms, like her animosities, were deep and contagious. She was not, as some have thought, socially snobbish. Her warm espousal of the State College, the so-called "people's institution", sometimes at the expense of her more natural affinity at the other end of town, bore evi­dence of this. She was not vindictive, as some have thought. If I may be personal, let me say that although she knew that I was critical of her biography of Emily Dickinson and that I was also involved in the "outlaw" centennial celebration at Mount Holyoke College, she none the less extended to me, and to my students, very gracious courtesies down through the years of our acquaintance.

A life-long friend, Mrs. Arthur Gillett, has written recently: "Oh, the strangeness and sadness of the thought that we can­ not have Martha and lean upon her belief in us-for that was surely the sweet comfort she gave to those she loved."

This brief tribute cannot close more fittingly than with the words with which Madame Bianchi prefaced a volume of verse entitled THE CATHEDRAL nearly half a century ago:

"Afar, the spires rise above the dome,
As sure and glad foundations, ramparts blest,
On which the blue floor of man's longer home,
Youth's heaven, faith's conjecture, rest."


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

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