03x10 - This was a Poet

Episode transcripts for the TV show "Dickinson". Aired: November 2019 to present.
Emily Dickinson writes using her outsider perspective to explore the constraints of society, gender and family in the 19th century.
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03x10 - This was a Poet

Post by bunniefuu »

Ah, glad tidings, Lady Peony.

I see you've got a new bonnet.

Admiral Tansy.

You've returned from your long journey
to the underworld victorious.

Ah, sweet Iris, in such an elegant gown.

- Oh,

there are my bumblebees,
booked and busy.


Honestly, who needs parties
when you have a garden?

This right here is the
social event of the season.


[DEATH] Working hard or hardly working?

Death. What are you doing in my garden?

I had to come check you out.
Show you my new fit.

[CHUCKLES] Damn. You are all spruced up.

Yeah, I got my shit together.

I was down bad last time we talked.

- Mmm.
- I'm good now though.

What happened? Did
you get some rest, or...

You know workaholics
don't take no vacations.

But I did think about things
a little bit differently.

Just had to change my
perspective. That's all.

Wow. Okay. Well, fill me in.

Well, I felt like I was kinda
being hard on myself.


It's like I'm that dude that
nobody ever wants to see.

People really don't like
the idea of laying in the dirt

with worms coming outta their face.

[CLICKS TONGUE] No, they don't.

[CHUCKLES] But then I started to think.

Without death, what is life?

It's all one process.

It's like these flowers.

They grow in soil, and
that's basically waste.

Then they bloom and eventually
rot and just become more dirt.

And the same thing
happens over and over.

It's a cycle, baby. Bitches
gotta deal with that.

Right. Well, I'm really glad
you're feeling better.

This suit is f*re.

Yeah. I was kinda thinking you
could use a new look yourself.

What's wrong with how I look?

It's not about how you
look. It's how you feel.

You gotta wear something that
makes you feel like yourself.

Your clothes are supposed to make
you feel like the one, not the two.

You can't be walking
around all hemmed up

by everybody else's expectations.

You got work to do, Ms. Dickinson.

You got all of these unreleased poems,

hundreds of them, the
greatest poems ever.

And you're on a bit of a deadline too.

I don't know if you're gonna be able to

work fast enough dressed like that.

So, what do you...

What do you think I should
wear? A suit like yours?

I can't tell you that.

You gotta ask yourself,
"What's gonna work for me?

What's gonna make me go deeper
than I've ever gone before?

Go farther than I ever traveled?"

You got work to do, Ms. Dickinson.
You gonna need a uniform.

You know, I do feel like
this dress is pretty stiff.

I'd love something more flexible.

Get what you need, Emily.

Be who you are, 'cause
time's moving fast.

You got poems to write.



Demonic... Devil's buttons.

Come on. [GROANS, PANTS]

Vinnie! [PANTS] Oh!

- Yes?
- I can't get this stupid dress off.

Can you come unbutton me?

Why are you getting undressed?
It's the middle of the day.

Because I need to get some writing done,

and this corset is so
tight I can't breathe.

Well, I hope you don't
have any visitors.

Who ever comes to visit me?

- There.
- Hmm.

The way women dress
these days is idiotic.

We should be able to get in and
out of our clothing by ourselves.

It's, like, a baseline requirement
for being an adult.

Emily Dickinson, how dare you question

the shape of a lady's silhouette?

Inspiration means inhalation.
Do you realize that?

To be inspired, you have
to be able to breathe.

I want to be able to sit at my
desk and fully inflate my lungs.

Okay, you crazy for that one.

- I just don't wanna wear a corset.
- Well, we all have dreams.


Oh, I can feel the blood flowing,
the blood and the poetry.

Nothing can stop you
from writing, can it?

Mmm. Nothing's stopped me yet.

And God knows people have tried.

They can't stop me from writing, Vinnie.

Because writing is the
thing that keeps me alive.

Well, I will always be here for that.



Look at us, a happy family.

Not all happy families are alike.


[SIGHS] All right.


Ah, well...

Look who it is.

We weren't expecting guests.

Mother, Father...

we're here to make peace.

I was never at w*r with
you in the first place.

Is that my grandson in there?

It is.

Well then, come inside at once.

It's time this nameless little heathen

got to know his Grandma Cookie.


So, have you chosen a name yet?

- Almost.
- Dear God, what is the delay?

- We'd like to give him a family name.
- Well, that's right and proper.

But before we can do that,

we need to know what
kind of family we have.

What on earth does that mean?

Father, uh, there's a matter
I'd like to discuss with you.

A new legal case has come to my
attention, and if it interests you,

perhaps we could take it on together.

Oh, I thought you started your own firm.

This case will require my full energy

but in addition, your
level of expertise.

I see.

Go on.

What's the situation?

There's a young, freeborn Black
woman named Angeline Palmer.

She worked as a servant here
in town for the Shaw family.

We know the Shaws.

- Yes, yes. Respectable people.
- Not exactly.

See, the Shaw family hatched a scheme

to sell Angeline into sl*very
in Georgia for $ .

- Angeline's brothers saved her

by smuggling her out of the house
before the Shaws left town,

but they were caught, charged
with kidnapping and as*ault.

These men are sitting in jail right now,

and they would deeply
welcome our representation.

Mmm, this is messy business.
The Shaws are well-connected.

I mean, why do we want to
draw this kind of attention

to the Dickinson name?

That is exactly why we
ought to take this case.

Let's face it, Dad. The Dickinson name
isn't doing so well right now.

Between your stodgy
Whiggishness and my, well...


you and I haven't had the best year.

Taking this case would give a new
meaning to the name "Dickinson".

It would mean that we
stood for what was right.

Knit one, purl two.

What's that you're knitting?

- Oh, you'll see. Everyone will see.
- See what?

Epic yarn b*mb incoming.

Good morning. Beautiful day out there.

Isn't it though?

I've got a spring in me step
from this nice weather.

The birds and the bees, you
know? The pollen, the nectar.

Makes me feel a bit wild.

I'd love for some dashing gentleman
to come whisk me off for a frolic.

Okay, Maggie's horny.

I'm looking for Emily. Is she in?

- Oh, she's upstairs, writing.
- Have you got something for her?

If she's writing, I don't
wanna disturb her.

Oh, she's always writing, or
thinking. Emily has to think.

She's the only one of
us who has that to do.

Go on up. She'll be happy to see you.

Knit one... [CHUCKLES] purl two.

[EMILY] My Wars are
laid away in Books...

- Who is it?

Oh, Betty. Come in.

I know you're busy.

It's all right. Is something wrong?

You didn't get word from Henry, did you?

No, nothing from Henry. I've just
about given up on that, uh...

Oh, Betty, I'm so sorry. I wish
there was something I could do.

No, listen. That's why I'm here.

Because you've been trying to help
me, and I was too hard on you.

All you were trying to
do was give me hope.

And there's nothing wrong
with that, nothing at all.

The world could use more people
trying to do that for each other.

[EDWARD] I don't know, Austin.

I've already accepted that my...
my legacy won't lie in politics.

My true legacy are the people
right here, my family, my children.

Well, then think of your children.
Angeline was years old.

Think of Emily at that age.

They tried to sell her
to a stranger for $ .

[SIGHS] You really care
about this, don't you?

Yes. It's time for things to change.

Seasons change, and so do societies.

And we can either be a
part of the new world,

or we can crumble to dust.

We'll take the case.

[CHUCKLES] Oh, wonderful.

I was afraid you were going to
announce you're moving to Nebraska.

No. No, he'll stay here in Amherst and

see if he can make it a better place.

- Would you pass him back to me?
- No. No.

So, um, there's actually something
I could use your help with.

Oh? What's that?

I want to make a new dress.


I'm a little backed up
with orders at the shop...

Oh, no, I don't want
you to make it for me.

I wanna make it myself.

- Yourself?
- Yes.

I know I'm not good at sewing,

but it's really important
that I do this for myself.

A dress I can write in.

A dress I can live in.

So, I could really use your
expert consultation,

because I'm not sure that
a dress quite like this

has ever existed before.

Well, I'd be happy to help.

I love the challenge of a new design.


Pull up a chair.

Before the girls take the baby
away, will you tell us the name?

Well, yes. I-I suppose we can.

Sue, would you like to do the honors?

- How about Sir Poops-a-lot?
- Accurate.

[STAMMERS] We're all ears.
What do we call this little fellow?

- Well, Austin and I have decided...
- Mm-hmm. [CHUCKLES]



- Uh... What...
- No, go on. Say it.

- Who can that be?
- There's somebody at the door.



Faith and begorra,

what is this fine specimen of a man

that I do see before me? [CHUCKLES]

My name is Colonel Thomas
Wentworth Higginson.

I'm here to see the great
poet, Emily Dickinson.

- What is it?
- ... the name at a different time.

There's a visitor here for Emily.

Emily? Who is it?

An army man, a high-ranking
officer, handsome as anything.

[CHUCKLES] His name is Wintwig
Hansworth Tompton Popcorn.

- Maggie, are you having a stroke?
- Say it slowly, Maggie.

Hemsworth Wiggleston Tenterhooks.


Colonel Thomas Wentworth Higginson.

Your daughter, Emily Dickinson, is my...

unseen correspondent.

Correspondent? [CHUCKLES] Y-You mean...

- She's been writing to you?
- Yes.

Many letters and poems.

Such extraordinary poems.

Emily's words, her exquisite,
necessary words,

have been a balm to me
amid the anguish of w*r.

Somehow, I've been out
there on the front lines,

yet she's the one who's managed
to capture the experience.

How is it possible that this woman
so far from the b*ttlefield

seems to speak its
deepest, darkest truths?


I had to come and meet her for myself,

and to see her home, of course,
and to meet her family.

Tell me, when did you first
realize she was a genius?

I will circle the entirety
of existence in this dress.

I will journey to the edges
of consciousness itself.

Okay, so you don't
want a hem that drags.

Consciousness is muddy.

Yes. Ye... It's... Yes!

And it has to be easy to clean
so that I can wear it every day

as I run through all
dimensions of experience.

So then it'll have to be white.
White is simplest to wash.

- A white dress?
- Mm-hmm.

Yes. Made of light, the light
that exists only in spring.

Very nice. And what about construction?

Latches, hooks, buttons?

If it has too many buttons,
I'll need help putting it on.

Well, what if it buttons all
the way up the front?

Then you can put it on yourself.

- A dress that buttons up the front?
- It's different.

It's innovative!

- Buttons all the way up the front.
- [GASPS] Love.

- Now, let's talk about shape.
- Mmm.

This is where we really
make a statement.

Bustles, petticoats, hoop?

I don't want any of that.
I want a streamline.

I'll tell you what else I don't want.

- This.
- No corset?

I need this dress to let me
live in every possibility.

Corsets make too many
things impossible. Whew.

I'll let you in on a little secret.
I don't wear no corset.

Damn. Your body just looks like that?

Yes and no. I use elastic
to shape the dress.

- I still look stylish...
- You do.

... but the elastic lets me breathe

while I'm bending and
stooping in my shop.

Could you work with that?

I don't know. I'm thinking no
shape. Pure shapelessness.

It's a lot of room to breathe in,
Emily Dickinson, but all right.

No corset, no elastic,
a uniform to work in.

Ah, uh... That raises the
question of utilities.

- Go on.
- What are the tools your work requires?

For example, I have scissors,
I have my thimble...

I just need a pencil,
a few scraps of paper.

All right.

And you'll want to carry
them with you, I assume,

for whenever inspiration strikes?

That's right.

Well, then you're definitely
going to need some...

- Pockets.
- ... pockets. Pockets.


[MAGGIE] Emily, someone's
here to see you.

- [MRS. DICKINSON] Let's sit you down...
- A visitor.

A visitor? Who?

Colonel Whatsworth Bentley Tiddlywinks.

Colonel Thomas Wentworth Higginson?

That's right. That's what I said.

He's here? He's in our house?

Downstairs with your
family waiting for ya.

Oh, my God.

What is he doing here? I never
said I wanted to meet in real life.

Our relationship is strictly text.

Are you worried he's not
gonna like the real you?

I-I don't know what he's gonna think.

I described myself in diminutive terms.

I told him I was small like the wren,

and that my hair was the
color of a chestnut burr.

Oh, I see. So, you cat-fished him?

I can't go downstairs. No, we have to...

We have to come up with
an excuse. Tell him...

Te... Uh, tell him that
I'm, uh, not dressed.

That Betty's in here with me
taking my measurements.

He'll have to come back another day.

All right. I'll give that a go.

But before I do, I feel
it's my duty to tell ya,

he's one of the finest-looking
gents I ever laid eyes on.

I don't care. I am not in love with him.

I only wanted his feedback on my poems.

I'm not ready to meet him yet.
[CHUCKLES] Not even close.

I haven't written enough.
Oh, I'm only just beginning.

It'll be years before I'm ready.

So you won't be upset if I tie my
bonny red hair around his neck?

Maggie, you do whatever it
takes. Just get him out of here.

I can't believe he actually came.

Oh, my God, Sue. What about
Sue? Is Sue gonna be mad?

How do you take your tea, Colonel?

And, uh, you must be hungry
after a long journey.

Can I get you a piece of roast ham?

Oh, no. No, thank you.

I'm actually a vegetarian.

How ethical.

Well, then I will get
you some vegetables.

I will be just a moment.

Could you take your jacket off, Colonel?

You're getting Civil
w*r dust everywhere.

Grandma Cookie, may I have a word?

Listen to me and listen good.

That man out there is very important.

He is a writer, a thinker,
a revolutionary,

and he came all the way here because
he admires Emily's poems.

Don't you understand?

He could one day be responsible
for Emily's legacy.

So we are going to serve him tea,

and we are going to
use our best dishware.

And if he asks for coffee,

we are going to serve it with
sweet butter and whole eggs

like The Frugal Housewife suggests.
Do you understand me?

Susan Gilbert, you
really are that bitch.

Everything all right?

Yes, we're just getting some
tea for Colonel Higginson.

Mm-hmm. Where's Emily?

Oh, just a small hiccup.

She's not coming down.

- I'm sure she'll be down soon.
- [EDWARD] Terribly rude.

I thought we'd taught her good manners,

but a father's work is never done.

Not at all. I'm sure she's busy writing.

I imagine that when she's deep
in her flow, time just dissolves.

Would you care for cream
and sugar, Colonel?

Just say the word.

- Oh, no. No, I take it plain.
- Mmm.

I'm so honored to meet
the family of the artist.

You must tell me all about
Emily. What is she like?

Go ahead, no detail too small.

After all, sometimes, people with
small lives do very big things.

[AUSTIN] Well...

Emily is unique.

- She's a bit of an odd duck.
- She can't sew, or cook, or clean.

- But boy, can she bake.
- She's, like, really into flowers.

We used to catch her
talking to bumblebees.

Yes, whatever happened to that bee?

She's a very unique person
when you get right down to it.

Oh, yeah. She's for sure the
crazy one of the family.

I'm not sure about that.

- The crazy one, huh?
- Oh, yeah.

I mean, the rest of us, pretty normal.

[LAVINIA] A country at w*r.

Divided, the men are falling.

This is a statement about
isolation and security.

I am a woman.

The men are dying!

And I am dying,

knitted into the details of my life,

as are we all.

Are you my father?

I'm your... I'm her father.

[LAVINIA] To be trapped a Dickinson.

That's not Emily, by the way.

- No, this i... [YELPS]

I think...

Yeah. I think this ought to work.

That's it.

A new kind of dress...

for a new kind of poetry.

Are you sure you don't want
me to make it for you?

- It would only take a few weeks.
- No. I want to do the work myself.

Oh, thank you for helping
me dream today, Betty.

What do I tell your family?

Um, tell them I can't come down.

Tell them...

I'm writing.

You know what?

Even if I can't change the world...

I'm still gonna write.

Even if no one ever cares.

Even if it makes
absolutely no difference

that there was a person named
Emily Dickinson who sat...

in this little room...

day after day...

and wrote things down just
because she felt them.

The tea is lovely.

Hi. I'm Vinnie.

Thomas Wentworth Higginson.

But you can call me Wentworth.


- Hands off. He's mine.

- Well, now that Lavinia's here...
- Horny.

... maybe we should do our big reveal?

Oh, before you got here,

we were about to announce
the name of our baby.

Oh, you've finally picked a name.

They took long enough. This
child is four months old.

- Get on with it. Get on with it!

- Cool! Who's gonna say it?
- Actually, the baby's going to say it.

- Right, Sue?
- Yes.

He has written a letter.

Wow, he's a letter writer.
He takes after his aunt.

It is, uh... It's addressed
to you, Mr. Dickinson.

- Shall I read it?
- Oh, please do.

- Oh, make sure you do the voice.
- Mm-hmm.

There's a voice?

"Dear Grandfather...

I've been in this great
world ever so many days

and haven't got any name yet".

Oh, yes. Emily's the crazy one.

"My mother says you
have a very nice name,

and I might ask you if I
can't have one just like it.

If you are willing that such
a... a little bit of a man

could have such a... a big name
as yours, please tell me".

- We're naming the baby Edward after you.

That is, with your permission.

Well, that is the greatest
honor of my long life.

Oh, Edward. [CHUCKLES] Baby Edward.

- [AUSTIN] We're going to call him Ned.
- Baby Ned.

- This is beautiful.


The baby has a name. [CHUCKLES]

Betty, I didn't know
you were still here.

Just helping Emily with a new dress.

I'll be on my way now.

Congratulations to you.

Oh, thank you.

And get ready,

I'm going to be ordering lots of
Sunday suits for my grandson

now that he has his Christian name.

Ah, I can't wait to bring
little Ned to church

and make all the other
grandmothers jealous.

Which is just what
religion is all about.

- [LAVINIA] Bye.

Ah, that's Betty. She
does all of our tailoring.

Yeah. And she's the best
seamstress in Amherst.

Excuse me for just a moment.

Love the uniform.

I think he likes us.

Is Emily ever coming down?

Pardon me, Betty.

You're Betty, right?

Excuse me? Who wants to know?

[STAMMERS] Forgive me, madam.

My name is Colonel Thomas
Wentworth Higginson.

I've had the honor of serving with

the first-ever regiment
of Black Union soldiers,

the First South Carolina Volunteers.

Perhaps you know of it.

You fought with Henry.


No, he fought on his
own, he and his men.

They armed themselves and
ran out to meet the enemy.

It was a brave thing to do.

There was a battle... A skirmish,
really, but a fierce one.

The Confederates were on
the march to Beaufort,

and the South Carolina
Volunteers went out

and intercepted them... ambushed.

Henry was among them.

Is he... Is he, uh...

Oh... Henry survived the battle. He's...

He's very much alive.

[EMILY] And sweetest...
in the Gale... is heard...

And sore must be the storm...

That could abash the little Bird

That kept so many warm...

I didn't dare to hope. [CHUCKLES]

Oh, and...


I brought something for you.


Henry's letters.

[HIGGINSON] Delivered at last.

I always say, great writing finds
a way to reach its audience.



[EDWARD] I'm terribly sorry she
hasn't come down yet, Colonel.

- I don't mind.
- Ah.

wait as long as it takes.

What's an hour or two
for a poet like Emily?

People might have to wait centuries
to really understand her.

You know, it used to be
said in the old Irish wars

that the clans had an agreement.

That no matter how
bloody the w*r became,

no matter how many were slaughtered,

that they should always spare the poets.

"Don't k*ll the poets", they'd say,

because the poets had to
be left to tell the story.

[EMILY] This was a Poet... It is That...

Distills amazing sense

From ordinary Meanings...

And attar so immense

I have a Bird in spring

The Sun... just touched the Morning...

The last of Summer is Delight...

I tie my Hat... I crease my Shawl...

Autumn... overlooked my Knitting...

There is no Frigate like a Book

In Winter in my Room

I started Early...

Took my Dog...

And visited the Sea...


Emily, come on! Emily...

[EMILY] The Mermaids in the
Basement Came out to look at me...

Come, Emily. Come.

[EMILY] Wait for me.

I'm coming.
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