Dickinson Poems

[These transcriptions of Dickinson poems are based on the editorial work of Thomas H. Johnson (see The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, edited by Johnson; Boston: Little, Brown, 1951). My only revision of Johnson's work is to use a hyphen instead of a dash (- instead of –) to represent Dickinson's dashes. The numbers assigned the poems as titles and the dates of composition are also those provided by Johnson. Dickinson did not title her poems at all.

You can see the manuscript of many of these poems by clicking on the poem icons wherever they appear. These have been scanned from The Manuscript Books of Emily Dickinson, edited by R. W. Franklin, 2 vols. (Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1981).]


c. 1858
[49]

I never lost as much but twice,
And that was in the sod.
Twice have I stood a beggar
Before the door of God!

Angels - twice descending
Reimbursed by store -
Burglar! Banker - Father!
I am poor once more!






c. 1861
[258]

There's a certain Slant of light,
Winter Afternoons -
That oppresses, like the Heft
Of Cathedral Tunes -

Heavenly Hurt, it gives us -
We can find no scar,
But internal difference,
Where the Meanings, are -

None may teach it - Any -
'Tis the Seal Despair -
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the Air -

When it comes, the Landscape listens -
Shadows - hold their breath -
When it goes, 'tis like the Distance
On the look of Death -










c. 1861
[280]

I felt a Funeral, in my Brain,
And Mourners to and fro
Kept treading - treading - till it seemed
That Sense was breaking through -

And when they all were seated,
A Service, like a Drum -
Kept beating - beating - till I thought
My Mind was going numb -

And then I heard them lift a Box
And creak across my Soul
With those same Boots of Lead, again,
Then Space - began to toll,

As all the Heavens were a Bell,
And Being, but an Ear,
And I, and Silence, some strange Race
Wrecked, solitary, here -

And then a Plank in Reason, broke,
And I dropped down, and down -
And hit a World, at every plunge,
And Finished knowing - then -






c. 1862
[338]

I know that He exists.
Somewhere - in Silence -
He has hid his rare life
From our gross eyes.

'Tis an instant's play.
'Tis a fond Ambush -
Just to make Bliss
Earn her own surprise!

But - should the play
Prove piercing earnest -
Should the glee - glaze -
In Death's - stiff - stare -

Would not the fun
Look too expensive!
Would not the jest -
Have crawled too far!
c. 1862
[448]

This was a Poet - It is That
Distills amazing sense
From ordinary Meanings -
And Attar so immense

From the familiar species
That perished by the Door -
We wonder it was not Ourselves
Arrested it - before -

Of Pictures, the Discloser -
The Poet - it is He -
Entitles Us - by Contrast -
To ceaseless Poverty -

Of Portion - so unconscious -
The Robbing - could not harm -
Himself - to Him - a Fortune -
Exterior - to Time -
c. 1862
[465]

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 -

The Eyes around - had wrung them dry -
And Breaths were gathering firm
For that last Onset - when the King
Be witnessed - in the Room -

I willed my Keepsakes - Signed away
What portion of me be
Assignable - and then it was
There interposed a Fly -

With Blue - uncertain stumbling Buzz -
Between the light - and me -
And then the Windows failed - and then
I could not see to see -
TO HEAR
AN ORIOLE SING
CLICK HERE












c. 1862
[526]

To hear an Oriole sing
May be a common thing -
Or only a divine.

It is not of the Bird
Who sings the same, unheard,
As unto Crowd -

The Fashion of the Ear
Attireth that it hear
In Dun, or fair -

So whether it be Rune,
Or whether it be none
Is of within.

The "Tune is in the Tree -"
The Skeptic - showeth me -
"No Sir! In Thee!"
c. 1862
[632]

The Brain - is wider than the Sky -
For - put them side by side -
The one the other will contain
With ease - and You - beside

The Brain is deeper than the sea -
For - hold them - Blue to Blue -
The one the other will absorb -
As Sponges - Buckets - do -

The Brain is just the weight of God -
For - Heft them - Pound for Pound -
And they will differ - if they do -
As Syllable from Sound -
c. 1862
[657]

I dwell in Possibility -
A fairer House than Prose -
More numerous of Windows -
Superior - for Doors -

Of Chambers as the Cedars -
Impregnable of Eye -
And for an Everlasting Roof
The Gambrels of the Sky -

Of Visitors - the fairest -
For Occupation - This -
The spreading wide my narrow Hands
To gather Paradise -
c. 1863
[670]

One need not be a Chamber - to be Haunted -
One need not be a House -
The Brain has Corridors - surpassing
Material Place -

Far safer, of a Midnight Meeting
External Ghost
Than its interior Confronting -
That Cooler Host.

Far Safer, through an Abbey gallop,
The Stones a'chase -
Than Unarmed, one's a'self encounter -
In lonesome Place -

Ourself behind ourself, concealed -
Should startle most -
Assassin hid in our Apartment
Be Horror's least.

The Body - borrows a Revolver -
He bolts the Door -
O'erlooking a superior spectre -
Or More -
c. 1863
[712]

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 -
The only Gossamer, my Gown -
My Tippet - only Tulle -

We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling in 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 -







c. 1864
[822]

This Consciousness that is aware
Of Neighbors and the Sun
Will be the one aware of Death
And that itself alone

Is traversing the interval
Experience between
And most profound experiment
Appointed unto Men -

How adequate unto itself
Its properties shall be
Itself unto itself and none
Shall make discovery.

Adventure most unto itself
The soul condemned to be -
Attended by a single Hound
Its own identity.
c. 1865
[1052]

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 -
?
[1755]

To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,
One clover, and a bee,
And revery.
The revery alone will do,
If bees are few.

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