10 Poems of Emily Dickinson


Emily Dickinson and The Example of Her PoemsEmily Dickinson’s life has always fascinated people, even before she was famous for her poetry. She was born in Amherst, Massachusetts, a small farming village, on December 10, 1830, to Edward and Emily Norcross Dickinson. Edward Dickinson was a well-respected lawyer and politician, descended from a prominent Amherst family; his father was a founder of Amherst College, where Edward was treasurer.

Emily was the middle child, and was very close to her brother, Austin, and sister, Lavinia. Emily spent almost all of her life in her parents’ home in Amherst, with the exception of the year she spent in boarding school—she left ostensibly because of illness, although it is more likely that it was homesickness. Emily was encouraged to get a good education, although Edward Dickinson had conservative views on the place of women, and did not want her to appear too literary.

When Emily returned from boarding school, she was very active socially, and was considered well-liked and attractive. In her late twenties, though, she suddenly cut herself all from all society, never leaving her family’s home, and started ferociously writing poetry. Although there is a long-standing myth that the catalyst for this was her falling in love with a man who rejected her, it is more likely that it was a combination of several factors.

Austin Dickinson married Emily’s very close friend, Susan Gilbert, but the marriage soon became an unhappy one, and Emily’s friendship with Susan eventually dissolved because of it. In addition, in late 1855, Emily’s mother fell ill with an undiagnosed illness, and from then until her death in 1882, she was essentially bedridden, and Emily and Lavinia had to devote a great deal of time to caring for her. This was especially taxing on Emily, who found all domestic chores stifling, and who was not very close to her mother. Finally, between 1851 and 1854, as many as thirty-three young acquaintances of Emily’s died, including her good friend and cousin, Emily Lavinia Norcross.

Emily began to dress only in white, and would see no one but her family, meeting visitors only through screens or behind doors. She wrote prolifically, writing almost 1800 poems in her lifetime, but her genius was never recognized in her lifetime. She published only seven poems while alive, all anonymously, and all heavily edited. Only after her death from kidney disease in 1886 did her sister find her poems. Recognizing their genius, she convinced her brother’s mistress, Mabel Loomis Todd, to help her publish them. The first book was published in 1890, and met with great success.


Here, you can read 10 Emily's poems to get more understanding about her literary works.


If Ever The Lid Gets Off My Head

If ever the lid gets off my head
And lets the brain away
The fellow will go where he belonged -
Without a hint from me,


And the world - if the world be looking on -
Will see how far from home
It is possible for sense to live
The soul there - all the time.



The Spry Arms Of The Wind

The spry Arms of the Wind
If I could crawl between
I have an errand imminent
To an adjoining Zone -

I should not care to stop
My Process is not long
The Wind could wait without the Gate
Or stroll the Town among.

To ascertain the House
And is the soul at Home
And hold the Wick of mine to it
To light, and then return -



Exhilaration is the Breeze

Exhilaration is the Breeze
That lifts us from the Ground
And leaves us in another place
Whose statement is not found -

Returns us not, but after time
We soberly descend
A little newer for the term
Upon Enchanted Ground -



From The Chrysalis

My cocoon tightens, colors tease,
I'm feeling for the air;
A dim capacity for wings
Degrades the dress I wear.

A power of butterfly must be
The aptitude to fly,
Meadows of majesty concedes
And easy sweeps of sky.

So I must baffle at the hint
And cipher at the sign,
And make much blunder, if at last
I take the clew divine.



Yesterday Is History

Yesterday is History,
'Tis so far away -
Yesterday is Poetry -
'Tis Philosophy -

Yesterday is mystery -
Where it is Today
While we shrewdly speculate
Flutter both away



With A Flower

I hide myself within my flower,
That wearing on your breast,
You, unsuspecting, wear me too -
And angels know the rest.
I hide myself within my flower,
That, fading from your vase,
You, unsuspecting, feel for me
Almost a loneliness.



I felt a Funeral, in my Brain

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 -



Success is Counted Sweetest

Success is counted sweetest 
By those who ne'er succeed.
To comprehend a nectar
Requires sorest need.

Not one of all the purple Host
Who took the Flag today
Can tell the definition
So clear of victory

As he defeated – dying –
On whose forbidden ear
The distant strains of triumph
Burst agonized and clear!



Wild nights - Wild nights!

Wild nights - Wild nights! 
Were I with thee
Wild nights should be
Our luxury!

Futile - the winds -
To a Heart in port -
Done with the Compass -
Done with the Chart!

Rowing in Eden -
Ah - the Sea!
Might I but moor - tonight -
In thee!



A Bird, came down the Walk

A Bird, came down the Walk - 
He did not know I saw -
He bit an Angle Worm in halves
And ate the fellow, raw,

And then, he drank a Dew
From a convenient Grass -
And then hopped sidewise to the Wall
To let a Beetle pass -

He glanced with rapid eyes,
That hurried all abroad -
They looked like frightened Beads, I thought,
He stirred his Velvet Head. -

Like one in danger, Cautious,
I offered him a Crumb,
And he unrolled his feathers,
And rowed him softer Home -

Than Oars divide the Ocean,
Too silver for a seam,
Or Butterflies, off Banks of Noon,
Leap, plashless as they swim.