In 1856, Emily Dickinson’s brother Austin married Susan Gilbert. Edward Dickinson had a house built next door to the Homestead as a wedding gift for the young couple. Austin and Susan called it “The Evergreens.” Their three children, Edward, Martha and Gilbert were born here.
The path between the Homestead and The Evergreens was a physical connection for the family. Emily once described it as “just wide enough for two who love.” It was flanked by trim lawn and carefully placed trees for shade and floral interest.
To see her brother and “Sister Sue,” as she called her sister-in-law, Emily didn’t need to go out onto the street. Her niece remembered her grandfather walking over with a lantern to guide Aunt Emily home after dark. When Emily arrived back at the Homestead, she set a light in her west bedroom window that was answered by one from Sue’s on the east side of the Evergreens.
Over this path, too, went poems. Emily shared many of her poems with the family next door, especially Susan.
Here is just one of the many poems Emily sent to Susan Dickinson:
These are the days when Birds come back -
A very few - a Bird or two -
To take a backward look.
These are the days when skies resume
The old - old sophistries of June -
A blue and gold mistake.
Oh fraud that cannot cheat the Bee,
Almost thy plausibility
Induces my belief,
Till ranks of seeds their witness bear-
And swiftly thro' the altered air
Hurries a timid leaf.
Oh sacrament of summer days,
Oh Last Communion in the Haze -
Permit a child to join -
Thy sacred emblems to partake -
Thy consecrated bread to take -
And thine immortal wine!