I found throughout the semester that Emily's poems connected to the drawings I had been working on. I should specify that I interpreted the poems in ways that related to the themes occupying my brain. This inspired me to attempt to capture the spirit of a few of Emily's poems in drawings. I feel I was particularly successful, but I have discovered I could never recreate her ideas as she intended them. My new drawings, though inspired by specific poems, still undeniably reflect my own mind more than Emily's, and can only be seen as an extension of her theme, rather than an accurate representation of it.
I found that the drawings I had made prior to beginning this assignment seemed as closely connected with specific Dickinson poems as those I had intentionally made as complements, so I have included those poems in the presentation.
The first poem, #1491, brought to my mind the scripture of the narrow road that leads to eternal life. I immediately thought of the stone church at Thomas More College, which could not possibly hold more than a half dozen people if one could get in. I had a sense of loneliness of choosing a path few would walk with you, but also of the peace that comes with knowing you have made a wise choice. The little church conveys a sense of both loneliness and peace. By drawing a circle of darkness around it in the sky and water, I attempted to imply the protection the soul can find in the simplest of faith. Nothing more is needed than the simplest structure to protect us against the elements, if it is strongly built. Emily expresses this in her poem when she says "Not that [the road] is not firm but we presume a Dimpled Road is more preferred."
I found poem #1767 after the sanctuary drawing was complete. The first image I had upon reading it was that of a dim and vacant sanctuary, containing the echoes of its past guests in the tall, looming walls. The poem seemed to perfectly describe my drawing, as I had intended to create in the drawing the feeling of being in the presence of something greater and vaster than ourselves -- whether an unfathomable God or an irretrievable past.
Poem #1630 was also discovered after its accompanying drawing was complete. The window in "Exit" seems to provide a means of bright and hopeful escape from a dark and dreary room, but the window is too high for any mortal to reach. It is the escape only the soul can realize. Several of Emily's death poems reminded me of this idea, but none captured it as clearly as #1630. The spirit in this poem is described as a balloon and a bird, both of which are ready by the forces of nature to soar out of the window toward heaven, just as the spirit would if only it weren't "fastened" to the "dust" of our mortal bodies and caged in the dark reality of the world.
I chose to draw a picture of a tomb for poem #976 because it speaks of the spirit leaving the body behind at death, and I can never see a tomb without wondering where the spirit of the person laid to rest now exists. To me, Death in the poem is Satan, waiting to take us under with him when we die, but the Soul that turns to God escapes his clutches. While some see a tomb and imagine its inhabitant turning to dust and ceasing to exist, I always see it as an empty house -- its occupant now either dragged into the depths of hell or escaped to heaven -- the two options described in Emily's poem.
I came across poem #1714 by chance, but found it wonderfully described an aspect of my drawing technique. It defies logic that our vision would improve as the light fades, but I believe Emily is saying that the uncertainty that comes from darkness wakens the senses and enables us to perceive more than we would have before. In the deep shadows and ambiguous spaces, mysteries are possible that could not exist if the spaces were more defined. This allows the mind to see what it will. In the Covington Cathedral drawing that accompanies this poem, I attempted to create the feeling of seeing more clearly "by a departing light" by drawing the eerie atmosphere of falling dusk. As darkness closes in on the building, a light becomes visible that wasn't easily noticed in the day, and mysteries begin to surface in the mind about the occupant of that lonely room. What would have simply been a picture of an old church is now a story because of the presence or absence of light.
The drawing of the arches that I associate with poem #1233 has always reminded me of the sun breaking through a canopy of trees. The sun's intensity blinds us so the leaves and branches become difficult to distinguish. Its light invades the shelter, but it is a welcome invasion. While a roof or forest canopy offers protection from the sun and all elements of nature, it also bars us from the full enjoyment of the sun's warmth and light. I associate Emily's poem with my drawing because she describes a person who had never emerged from that canopy, but now finding herself exposed to the full intensity of the sun, could not be content to return to the shelter without light.
I originally drew the church entrance to accompany an earlier poem about poverty and charity, but poem #953, though not directly about poverty, more accurately portrays the image that the poem inspired. The multiple doors on this church seemed to imply that all were welcome to enter, but at the same time their architecture and size made them intimidating. They are not the doors of a warm, accepting and comfortable home. They attempt to inspire awe of the God whose presence you are coming into, but fail to invite you into that presence. Emily's poem shows how tragic a failure of sensitivity and openness like this can be, whether it leaves people in physical, emotional or spiritual poverty. The passerby is hurt by the insensitivity of those who fail to welcome her, and their exclusiveness is no less painful if it is done out of ignorance of her needs and the effects of their actions, than if it is done maliciously.
Poem #975, upon first reading, did not bring to my mind the image of a mountain, though that is its direct subject. It reminded me instead of a snapshot I had taken on a tower -- attached to a church -- that seemed to be declaring its own importance in the way it loomed over the people entering the building and extended into the sky above the trees. The mountain in Emily's poem is powerful, monumental and permanent. It had a right to the compliments she gives it because these qualities are inherent in its nature. The tower, designed by human hands, was built to create the same sense of awe in its viewers as the mountain did for Emily, but its greatness is an illusion. It cannot be anything but dwarfed by its model because human hands could never create anything as perfect and timeless as a mountain.
Though I feel my drawings cannot do justice to Emily's poems, I find I have a deeper understanding of both her work and my own because I connected them. I found words for my thoughts through Emily, and images for her words through my work. The experience reinforced my belief that the arts are only made more stimulating by their relationships to one another.
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