Emily Dickinson – Solitary Poet

Emily Dickinson Daguerreotype

I adore Emily Dickinson (1830-1886). Maybe it’s because she lived in Amherst, Massachusetts, only about an hour from where I live. Maybe it’s because she enjoyed a solitary life, which I also do. I imagine part of the reason I’m drawn to her is that she kept most of her poetry private throughout her life. Even after she died, her poetry was heavily modified by those who published it. It was only about a hundred years after her death that the world finally got to see what she wrote in its true, unadulterated form.

That then makes me wonder, did Emily really want the world to see the poetry? What if she wrote this for her own solace and never intended for others to read it? I know of friends who burned their diaries rather than have strangers read it. What if Emily felt that way about her writings?

Here’s one of her poems that strikes me with its power. Which of her poems is your favorite?

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 –

We passed the School, where Children strove
At Recess – in the Ring –
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain –
We passed the Setting Sun –

Or rather – He passed Us –
The Dews drew quivering and Chill –
For only Gossamer, my Gown –
My Tippet – only Tulle –

We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground –
The Roof was scarcely visible –
The Cornice – in the Ground –

Since then – ’tis Centuries – and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses’ Heads
Were toward Eternity –

Emily Dickinson
Emily Dickinson

Image of Emily Dickinson in public domain. It was sourced from Wikipedia:


Author: BellaRadio

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *