Emily Dickinson

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Love is a conflict between reflexes and reflections.
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If I can stop one heart from breaking I shall not live in vain...

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.

Sourced

  • 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

Poems

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!



  • "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 —



  • How dreary — to be — Somebody!
    How public — like a Frog —
    To tell one's name — the livelong June —
    To an admiring Bog!





  • 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 —



  • Love — thou art Veiled —
    A few — behold thee —
    Smile — and alter — and prattle — and die —
    Bliss — were an Oddity — without thee —
    Nicknamed by God —
    Eternity —



  • Because I could not stop for Death —
    He kindly stopped for me —
    The Carriage held but just Ourselves —
    And Immortality.

    We slowly drove — He knew no haste
    And I had put away
    My labor and my leisure too,
    For His Civility —



  • 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 —



  • A Vastness, as a Neighbor, came,
    A Wisdom, without Face, or Name,
    A Peace, as Hemispheres at Home
    And so the Night became.


  • 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 —
    Prosperity —


  • Not with a Club, the Heart is broken
    Nor with a Stone —
    A Whip so small you could not see it
    I've known

    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



  • The Pedigree of Honey
    Does not concern the Bee —
    A Clover, any time, to him,
    Is Aristocracy —


  • 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.
    • Randall Jarrell, "The Year in Poetry," Harper's (October 1955); republished in Kipling, Auden & Co: Essays and Reviews 1935-1964 (1980) [Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1981, ISBN 0-374-51668-5], p. 244

External links

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