Emily Dickinson (1830-12-10 - 1886-05-15) was an American poet. Virtually unknown in her lifetime, Dickinson has come to be regarded as one of the greatest American poets of the 19th century. Although she wrote (at latest count) 1789 poems, only a few of them were published, all anonymously and some perhaps without her knowledge.
- My friends are my "estate." Forgive me then the avarice to hoard them.
- Letter to Samuel Bowles (August 1858 or 1859), letter #193 of The Letters of Emily Dickinson, ed. Thomas H. Johnson, assoc. ed. Theodora Ward, The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1958
The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, ed. Thomas H. Johnson. Little, Brown and Co., 1960
- Success is counted sweetest
By those who ne'er succeed.
To comprehend a nectar
Requires a sorest need.
Not one of all the purple Host
Who took the Flag today
Can tell the definition
So clear of Victory
As he defeated — dying —
On whose forbidden ear
The distant strains of triumph
Burst agonized and clear!
- "Faith" is a fine invention
When Gentlemen can see —
But Microscopes are prudent
In an Emergency.
- "Hope" is the thing with feathers —
That perches in the soul —
And sings the tune without the words —
And never stops — at all —
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'm Nobody! Who are you?
Are you — Nobody — Too?
- How dreary — to be — Somebody!
How public — like a Frog —
To tell one's name — the livelong June —
To an admiring Bog!
- 288: I'm Nobody! Who are you?; In some editions "June" has been altered to "day".
- The Soul selects her own Society —
Then — shuts the Door —
To her divine Majority —
Present no more —
- Some keep the Sabbath going to Church —
I keep it, staying at Home—
With a Bobolink for a Chorister —
And an Orchard, for a Dome—
- God preaches, a noted Clergyman —
And the sermon is never long,
So instead of getting to Heaven, at last—
I’m going, all along.
- This is my letter to the World
That never wrote to Me —
The simple News that Nature told —
With tender Majesty
Her Message is committed
To Hands I cannot see —
For love of Her — Sweet — countrymen —
Judge tenderly — of Me
- I died for Beauty — but was scarce
Adjusted in the Tomb,
When One who died for Truth, was lain
In an adjoining Room —
He questioned softly "Why I failed"?
"For Beauty," I replied.
"And I — for Truth, — Themself are One —
We Brethren, are", He said —
- 449: I died for Beauty —
- Dreams — are well — but Waking's better,
If One wake at Morn —
If One wake at Midnight — better —
Dreaming — of the Dawn —
- Love — thou art Veiled —
A few — behold thee —
Smile — and alter — and prattle — and die —
Bliss — were an Oddity — without thee —
Nicknamed by God —
- I heard a Fly buzz — when I died —
The Stillness in the Room
Was like the Stillness in the Air —
Between the Heaves of Storm —
- Because I could not stop for Death —
He kindly stopped for me —
The Carriage held but just Ourselves —
We slowly drove — He knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For His Civility —
- Since then — 'tis Centuries — and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses' Heads
Were toward Eternity —
- My Life had stood — a Loaded Gun —
In Corners — till a Day
The Owner passed — identified —
And carried Me away —
And now We roam in Sovereign Woods —
And now We hunt the Doe —
And every time I speak for Him —
The Mountains straight reply —
- We outgrow love, like other things
And put it in the Drawer —
Till it an Antique fashion shows —
Like Costumes Grandsires wore.
- If I can stop one Heart from breaking
I shall not live in vain.
If I can ease one Life the Aching
Or cool one Pain
Or help one fainting Robin
Unto his Nest again
I shall not live in Vain.
- A Grave — is a restricted Breadth —
Yet ampler than the Sun —
And all the Seas He populates
And lands he looks upon
To Him who on its small Repose
Bestows a single Friend —
Circumference without Relief —
Or Estimate — or End
- I never saw a Moor —
I never saw the Sea —
Yet know I how the Heather looks
And what a Billow be.
I never spoke with God
Nor visited in Heaven —
Yet certain am I of the spot
As if the Checks were given —
- 1052: I never saw a Moor —
- To Whom the Mornings stand for Nights,
What must the Midnights — be!
- A Vastness, as a Neighbor, came,
A Wisdom, without Face, or Name,
A Peace, as Hemispheres at Home
And so the Night became.
- 1104: The Crickets sang
- Tell all the Truth but tell it slant —
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth's superb surprise
As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind —
- Could Hope inspect her Basis
Her Craft were done —
Has a fictitious Charter
Or it has none —
Balked in the vastest instance
But to renew —
Felled but by one assassin —
- Not with a Club, the Heart is broken
Nor with a Stone —
A Whip so small you could not see it
To lash the Magic Creature
Till it fell,
Yet that Whip's Name
Too noble then to tell.
Magnanimous as Bird
By Boy descried —
Singing unto the Stone
Of which it died —
Shame need not crouch
In such an Earth as Ours —
Shame — stand erect —
The Universe is yours.
- More than the Grave is closed to me —
The Grave and that Eternity
To which the Grave adheres —
I cling to nowhere till I fall —
The Crash of nothing, yet of all —
How similar appears —
- If Aims impel these Astral Ones
The ones allowed to know
Know that which makes them as forgot
As Dawn forgets them — now
- Who has not found the Heaven — below —
Will fail of it above —
- The Pedigree of Honey
Does not concern the Bee —
A Clover, any time, to him,
Is Aristocracy —
- 1627, version II: The pedigree of Honey
- I took one Draught of Life —
I'll tell you what I paid —
Precisely an existence —
The market price, they said.
- Upon the gallows hung a wretch,
Too sullied for the hell
To which the law entitled him.
As nature's curtain fell
The one who bore him tottered in, —
For this was woman's son.
"'Twere all I had," she stricken gasped —
Oh, what a livid boon!
About Emily Dickinson
- Her poetry is the diary or autobiography — though few diaries or autobiographies compare with it for intentional and, especially, unintentional truth — of an acute psychologist, a wonderful rhetorician, and one of the most individual writers who ever lived, one of those best able to express experience at its most nearly absolute.
- Dickinson on Poets.org Biography, related essays, and reading guides, from the Academy of American Poets
- Works by Emily Dickinson at Project Gutenberg
- Dickinson Electronic Archives
- Emily Dickinson International Society
- Dickinson article from the online Literary Encyclopedia|
- Selected Poems of Emily Dickinson at Poetseers
- "Her own words shed new light on Emily Dickinson": CNN Review of Open Me Carefully
- Emily Dickinson - The Complete Poems
- The poems of Emily Dickinson read aloud in RealAudio