Sunday, December 10, 2017

Library Way: Emily Dickinson and the Living Word

photo © Mark Butkus 2011
Emily Dickinson plaque on Library Way.

Known as poem 1212 from Emily Dickinson's correspondence with Frances and Louise Norcross, 1212 appears in its entirety as immortalized upon Library Way in New York City.

Fanny and Loo were first cousins to Emily Dickinson. Their correspondence included 25 Dickinson poems that were posthumously published in the collection, Poems in 1896. Protective of their cousin, the Norcross sisters provided transcripts of Emily's poetry and not the original versions. It wasn't until Thomas H. Johnson published Dickinson's Complete Poems in 1955, that her poems appeared as Emily Dickinson had written them.


A word is dead
When it is said,
Some say.
I say it just
Begins to live
That day.

— Emily Dickinson

In 1996, the New York Public Library, the Grand Central Partnership and the New Yorker Magazine convened a panel of esteemed lovers of the written word and came up with a collection of quotations from the never-ending oeuvre of literature.

These quotes were cast in bronze by New York sculptor Gregg LeFevre and then laid out as sidewalk plaques on E 41st Street in 1998. In 2003, the stretch of E 41st Street from the New York Public Library entrance on Fifth Avenue to Park Avenue was renamed Library Way.

Today, we celebrate the life and poetry of Emily Dickinson — born this day in 1830. Whether it be a birthday, anniversary or publication date of a seminal work, the Bar None Group will revisit these 40+ quotations from time to time — quotations that inspire one to write, read, explore and embrace literature. We last visited Marianne Moore.

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