Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)
Amherst, Massachusetts, United States
A word is dead when it is said, some say,
I say it just begins to live that day.
- Emily Dickinson, "A word is dead."
The life of Emily Dickinson has intrigued individuals for
decades. Dickinson seldom left her residency and whenever
she had encounters with people, they impacted her thoughts
and poetry immensely. One in particular was Reverend Charles
Wordsworth, whom she met on a trip to Philadelphia. Dickinson
deeply admired Wordsworth and after a brief visit of Wordsworth
to her home in 1860, she began to write heartsick poetry.
In the 1860s, Emily lived in almost complete isolation from
the outside world and her sense of alienation was a common
motif in her poems. Metaphysics of England of the 1600s
enthralled Dickinson along with her Puritan background.
Dickinson admired poets such as Robert, Elizabeth Barrett
Browning, and Keats. Both Dickinson and Whitman, although
differing in styles, share a unique American anthem. Dickinson
used strict iambic meters, employed both rhyme and slant
rhyming schemes, used unconventional grammar and spelling,
and never titled her work. She would write poetry in little
strips of paper, curl them up, and stick them in odd places
such as door hinges or gaps in the wall of her bedroom.
She tried publishing her poetry once, yet canceled on the
idea; she was not publicly recognized during her lifetime.
Dickinson was extremely prolific as a poet and regularly
enclosed poems in letters to friends, but she was not publicly
recognized during her lifetime. The first volume of her
work was published posthumously.
Poems by Emily Dickinson (1890)
Poems: Second Series (1891)
Poems: Third Series (1896)
The Single Hound: Poems of a Lifetime (1914)
The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson (1924)
Further Poems of Emily Dickinson: Withheld from Publication
by Her Sister Lavinia (1929)
Unpublished Poems of Emily Dickinson (1935)
Bolts of Melody: New Poems of Emily Dickinson (1945)
The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson (1960)
Final Harvest: Emily Dickinson's Poems (1962)
Letters of Emily Dickinson (1894)
Emily Dickinson Face to Face: Unpublished Letters with
Notes and Reminisces (1932)
Online Literary Criticism of Emily Dickinson's Work:
Campbell, D. Homepage. March 31, 2001 http://www.gonzaga.edu/faculty/campbell/enl311/dickinson.htm
"Emily Dickinson." The Academy
of American Poets. 2001. http://www.poets.org/poets/poets.cfm?prmID=156