UNREQUITED GIFTSBy Dan MillerDecember 19, 2008 I feel something akin to sadness when I consider the brilliantly creative people who never enjoy the fruits of their gifts. We all know the story of Vincent Van Gogh. In his short 37 years of life, he sold just one painting. It's simply remarkable to me that Van Gogh earned money for only one of those stunning paintings that stir the soul of all who see them. Yet today, 118 years after his death, a Van Gogh original can easily bring $80,000,000 or more at auction.It's astounding. And consider poet Emily Dickinson. For much of her life she lived in virtual seclusion in Massachusetts, prolifically turning out poems. She wrote nearly 1,800 of them... possibly more... never hearing any testament to the masterpieces she was creating. She stashed them away, untitled... simply numbered. During her lifetime Emily Dickinson published fewer than a dozen poems... hardly a worthwhile monetary payoff. And the few that were published were altered by the publishers, because they felt her unconventional style didn't fit the preferred poetry format of the day. After her death in 1886, her sister uncovered a cache of Emily's unseen poems. When they were eventually published, she quickly emerged -- in death -- as one of this country's most revered poets, on a level with Walt Whitman, Robert Frost and T. S. Eliot. Some people will tell you that reading Emily Dickinson's words can be life-changing. Those words, they say, can do what poetry does best... give wings to our thoughts.... Lead us to soften our fears and prejudices.... And put life in perspective. Consider the meager 48 words that make up Emily Dickinson's untitled poem, #1665: I know of people in the Grave Who would be very glad To know the news I know tonight If they the chance had had 'Tis this expands the least event And swells the scantest deed -- My right to walk upon the Earth If they this moment had.___________________________
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