Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD REFERENCE ( (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2013. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single entry from a reference work in OR for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 21 March 2019

Emily Dickinson 1830–86
American poet 

  1. After great pain, a formal feeling comes—
    The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs.
    ‘After great pain, a formal feeling comes’ (1862)
  2. Because I could not stop for Death—
    He kindly stopped for me—
    The Carriage held but just Ourselves—
    And Immortality.
    ‘Because I could not stop for Death’ (1863)
  3. Since then—'tis Centuries—and yet
    Feels shorter than the Day
    I first surmised the Horses Heads
    Were toward Eternity.
    ‘Because I could not stop for Death’ (1863)
  4. There is no Frigate like a Book
    To take us Lands away
    Nor any Coursers like a Page
    Of prancing Poetry.
    ‘A Book (2)’ (1873)
  5. The Bustle in a House
    The Morning after Death
    Is solemnest of industries
    Enacted upon Earth—
    The Sweeping up the Heart
    And putting Love away
    We shall not want to use again
    Until Eternity.
    ‘The Bustle in a House’ (1866)
  6. Forever—is composed of nows.
    ‘Forever—is composed of nows’ (c. 1863)
  7. Hope is the thing with feathers—
    That perches in the soul—
    And sings the tune without the words—
    and never stops—at all—
    ‘Hope is the thing with feathers’ (c. 1861)
  8. 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.
    ‘I heard a Fly buzz—when I died’ (1862)
  9. Love is anterior to life,
    Posterior to death,
    Initial of creation, and
    The exponent of breath.
    ‘Love is anterior to life’
  10. Parting is all we know of heaven,
    And all we need of hell.
    ‘My life closed twice before its close’
  11. The Soul selects her own Society—
    Then—shuts the Door—
    To her divine Majority—
    Present no more.
    ‘The Soul selects her own Society’ (1862)
  12. Success is counted sweetest
    By those who ne'er succeed.
    To comprehend a nectar
    Requires sorest need.
    ‘Success is counted sweetest’ (1859)
  13. Tell all the Truth but tell it slant.
    ‘Tell all the Truth but tell it slant’ (c. 1868)
  14. There's a certain Slant of light,
    Winter Afternoons—
    That oppresses like the Heft
    Of Cathedral Tunes—
    ‘There's a certain Slant of light’ (1861)
  15. They shut me up in prose—
    As when a little girl
    They put me in the closet—
    Because they liked me ‘still’.
    ‘They shut me up in prose’ (1862)
  16. This is my letter to the world
    That never wrote to me.
    ‘This is my letter to the world’ (1862)
  17. If I read a book [and] it makes my whole body so cold no fire can ever warm me, I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry. These are the only way I know it. Is there any other way.
    letter to T. W. Higginson, 16 August 1870
  18. Find ecstasy in life; the mere sense of living is joy enough.
    letter to T. W. Higginson, 17 August 1870
  19. Friday I tasted life. It was a vast morsel. A Circus passed the house—still I feel the red in my mind though the drums are out. The Lawn is full of south and the odours tangle, and I hear to-day for the first time the river in the tree.
    letter to Mrs J. G. Holland, May 1866
  20. We turn not older with years, but newer every day.
    letter, 1874