The Letters of Emily Dickinson
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Emily Elizabeth Dickinson (December 10, 1830 – May 15, 1886) was an American poet. Dickinson was born in Amherst, Massachusetts. Although part of a prominent family with strong ties to its community, Dickinson lived much of her life highly introverted. After studying at the Amherst Academy for seven years in her youth, she briefly attended the Mount Holyoke Female Seminary before returning to her family’s house in Amherst. Considered an eccentric by locals, she developed a noted penchant for white clothing and became known for her reluctance to greet guests or, later in life, to even leave her bedroom. Dickinson never married, and most friendships between her and others depended entirely upon correspondence. While Dickinson was a prolific private poet, fewer than a dozen of her nearly 1,800 poems were published during her lifetime. The work that was published during her lifetime was usually altered significantly by the publishers to fit the conventional poetic rules of the time. Dickinson’s poems are unique for the era in which she wrote; they contain short lines, typically lack titles, and often use slant rhyme as well as unconventional capitalization and punctuation. Many of her poems deal with themes of death and immortality, two recurring topics in letters to her friends. Although Dickinson’s acquaintances were most likely aware of her writing, it was not until after her death in 1886 — when Lavinia, Dickinson’s younger sister, discovered her cache of poems — that the breadth of her work became apparent to the public. Her first collection of poetry was published in 1890 by personal acquaintances Thomas Wentworth Higginson and Mabel Loomis Todd, though both heavily edited the content. A complete, and mostly unaltered, collection of her poetry became available for the first time when scholar Thomas H. Johnson published The Poems of Emily Dickinson in 1955. Despite some unfavorable reception and skepticism over the late 19th and early 20th centuries regarding her literary prowess, Dickinson is now almost universally considered to be one of the most significant of all American poets.
conclusion then, that I should not be at all homesick, but the reaction left me as homesick a girl as it is not usual to see. I am now quite contented and am very much occupied in reviewing the Junior studies, as I wish to enter the middle class. The school is very large, and though quite a number have left, on account of finding the examinations more difficult than they anticipated, yet there are nearly 300 now. Perhaps you know that Miss Lyon is raising her standard of scholarship a good deal,
tried in the Supreme Court next week? Don’t you think fumigation ceased when father died? Poor, romantic Miss M——! But perhaps a Police Gazette was better for you than an essay. I hope you are both stronger, and ask a word of gain with these ecstatic days. I give my anxious love, and Vinnie’s faithfulness with mine. YOUR EMILY TO Mr. C. H. Clark April 15, 1886 Thank you, dear friend, I am better. The velocity of the ill, however, is like that of the snail. I am glad of your father’s
Unwind the solemn twine, and tie my Valentine. Oh the earth was made for lovers, for damsel, and hopeless swain, For sighing, and gentle whispering, and unity made of twain. All things do go a courting, in earth or sea, or air, God hath made nothing single but thee in His world so fair! The bride and then the bridegroom, the two, and then the one, Adam, and Eve, his consort, the moon and then the sun; The life doth prove the precept, who obey shall happy be, Who will not serve the
her not to be rash. How glad I should be to see you all, but it won’t be long, Vinnie. You will be willing, won’t you, for a little while? It has rained and been very hot, and mosquitoes, as in August. I hope the flowers are well. The tea-rose I gave Aunt L——has a flower now. Is the lettuce ripe? Persons wear no bonnets here. Fanny has a blade of straw with handle of ribbon. Affectionately, EMILY To the Same . . . Father told me you were going. I wept for the little plants, but rejoiced for
you went. Vinnie trains the honeysuckle, and the robins steal the string for nests—quite, quite as they used to. I have the errand from my heart—I might forget to tell it. Would you please to come home? The long life’s years are scant, and fly away, the Bible says, like a told story—and sparing is a solemn thing, somehow, it seems to me —and I grope fast, with my fingers, for all out of my sight I own, to get it nearer. I had one letter from Mary. I think she tries to be patient —but you