May 16, 2010

American Poetry 101: Emily Dickinson

"I started Early -- Took my Dog --
And visited the Sea --
The Mermaids in the Basement
Came out to look at me --"

Poem 520, excerpt

"I'm nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us--don't tell!
They'd banish us, you know"

Poem 260, excerpt

Emily Dickinson (Amherst, MA, 1830-1886)

* * *

"The one power Dickinson trusted was the power of language, which she loved (...) By her own account she experienced an acute physical reaction to words, a euphoric shock. I know exactly what she meant, because her poetry has that effect. Ambush is its strategy. It knocks the breath out of you and leaves you giddy, like a nanosecond-long roller coaster ride."

Holland Cotter, excerpt from ‘My Hero, the Outlaw of Amherst’, published in the Arts Section, The New York Times, May 16, 2010

* * *

"Had I a mighty gun
I think I'd shoot the human race
And then to glory run!"

Poem 118, excerpt

Emily Dickinson (Amherst, MA, 1830-1886)

Further reading:

Emily Dickinson (

Emily Dickinson (Poetry Foundation)

Project Gutenberg: Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson. The Complete Poems (

Times Topics: Emily Dickinson (The New York Times)

Emily Dickinson (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

Second Debut of Emily Dickinson (Virginia Quarterly Review)

Emily Dickinson Museum

Dickinson Electronic Archives

Emily Dickinson: The Poetry of Flowers (The New York Botanical Garden)