Dickinson, Emily

Dickinson, Emily (1830 - 1886)


For more poems, see the Academy of America Poets


  • A Bird came down the Walk (328)
  • A Drop fell on the Apple Tree (794)
  • A lane of Yellow led the eye (1650)
  • A Man may make a Remark (952)
  • Because I could not stop for Death (712)
  • Besides the Autumn poets sing (131)
  • Color--Caste--Denomination - (970)
  • Come Slowly--Eden (211)
  • Fame is a fickle food (1659)
  • Hope is the thing with feathers (254)
  • I cannot live with You (640)
  • I felt a Funeral, in my Brain (280)
  • I heard a Fly buzz (465)
  • I like to see it lap the Miles (43)
  • I measure every Grief I meet (561)
  • I taste a liquor never brewed (214)
  • I tie my Hat--I crease my Shawl (443)
  • I'm Nobody! Who are you? (260)
  • It was not Death, for I stood up (510)
  • It's all I have to bring today (26)
  • Knows how to forget! (433)
  • Like Brooms of Steel (1252)
  • Luck is not chance (1350)
  • My life closed twice before its close (96)
  • One day is there of the series
  • One Sister have I in our house (14)
  • Safe in their Alabaster Chambers (216)
  • The Outlet (162)
  • The Savior must have been a docile Gentleman (1487)
  • The Soul selects her own Society (303)
  • The Soul unto itself (683)
  • There is no frigate like a book (1263)
  • There's a certain Slant of light (258)
  • To make a prairie (1755)
  • Two Butterflies went out at Noon— (533)
  • We never know how high we are (1176)
  • Wild Nights--Wild Nights! (249)

and The Poetry Foundation


  • “Faith” is fine invention (202)
  • “Hope” is the thing with feathers
  • A little East of Jordan, (145)
  • A narrow Fellow in the Grass
  • A Route of Evanescence, (1489)
  • After great pain, a formal feeling comes – (372)
  • All overgrown by cunning moss, (146)
  • Because I could not stop for Death – (479)
  • Before I got my eye put out – (336)
  • Come slowly – Eden! (205)
  • Fame is a bee. (1788)
  • Fame is a fickle food (1702)
  • Forever – is composed of Nows – (690)
  • How many times these low feet staggered
  • I dwell in Possibility – (466)
  • I felt a Funeral, in my Brain
  • I heard a Fly buzz – when I died
  • I know that He exists. (365)
  • I never hear the word “Escape” (144)
  • I started Early – Took my Dog – (656)
  • It sifts from Leaden Sieves
  • It was not Death, for I stood up
  • Let me not thirst with this Hock at my Lip
  • Much Madness is divinest Sense
  • My Life had stood - a Loaded Gun (764)
  • Of Glory not a Beam is left (1685)
  • Publication – is the Auction (788)
  • Safe in their alabaster chambers
  • Snow flakes. (45)
  • Some keep the Sabbath going to Church – (236)
  • Success is counted sweetest (112)
  • Surgeons must be very careful (156)
  • The Bustle in a House (1108)
  • The Moon is distant from the Sea – (387)
  • The Props assist the House (729)
  • There is no Frigate like a Book (1286)
  • There's a certain Slant of light, (320)
  • They shut me up in Prose – (445)
  • Wild nights - Wild nights! (269)
  • You left me – Sire – two Legacies – (713)


    Important Copyright Notice

    "The copyright situation pertaining to the poetry of Emily Dickinson is extremely complex since nearly all the poems were published after her death and the circumstances surrounding the earliest publication resulted in versions of the poetry that were in many cases significantly different than the form of the poems as penned by Emily Dickinson.... The following poems are in the public domain and we have no objection if you include the following poems on the Web-site [nos. 59, 77, 185, 249, 254, 510, 1078]" (Melinda Koyanis, Manager of Copyright, Harvard University Press, personal correspondence to the editor, April 21, 1997).

    Regrettably, permission has not been granted RPO to present the following poems in the way Dickinson wrote them.

    Emily (Elizabeth) Dickinson (1830-1886) lived and died, unmarried and intensely retired, in Amherst, Massachusetts. The daughter of Edward Dickinson, a lawyer, Emily attended Mount Holyoke Female Seminary in South Hadley and afterwards retired to a quite private life that, although without event, was rich in creativity. She developed close, if corresponding relationships with several men who encouraged her to write poetry, including Benjamin F. Newton, the Reverend Charles Wadsworth, and T. W. Higginson. A good introduction to her life is through her letters, edited by Thomas H. Johnston and Theodora Ward in three volumes (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap University Press, 1965). Her discovery of a power to write poetry--in the late 1850s--gifted an astonishing inner life to her nation, which has chosen her to be one of its greatest poets. Dickinson published only seven of her nearly 2,000 poems, but several hundreds were edited after her death in three very popular volumes in the 1890s. These exist in facsimile in Poems (1890-1896) by Emily Dickinson: A Facsimile Reproduction of the Original Volumes Issued in 1890, 1891, and 1896, with an Introduction by George Monteiro (Gainesville, Florida: Scholars' Facsimiles & Reprints, 1967). Twentieth-century editors have re-edited these and others of her poems from manuscript bundles in her hand. The most authoritative is The Poems of Emily Dickinson Including variant readings critically compared with known manuscripts, edited by Thomas H. Johnson in three volumes (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1963). The Manuscript Books of Emily Dickinson, edited by R. W. Franklin in two volumes (Cambridge, Mass., and London: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1981) shows that Emily wrote her poems in batches and bound them together in fascicles or little packets. Her hand is easily legible, although her habits of punctuation--a heavy use of dashes and periods--makes her manuscripts sometimes a challenge to read. Her capitalization, punctuation, and spelling are normalized here, "as surely she would have expected had her poems been published in her lifetime" (Johnson, I: lxii). Readers who come to love the mind in Dickinson's poems will want to read her manuscript copy, in part for its punctuation. Where the manuscript versions remain in copyright, the text of her poems in Representative Poetry On-line comes from the early editions of the 1890s.

      • After great pain, a formal feeling comes (341)
      • Dying! dying in the night! (158)
      • The first day's night had come
      • I dwell in possibility (657)
      • I reckon, when I count at all (569)
      • It would have starved a gnat (612)
      • Much madness is divinest sense
      • My triumph lasted till the drums (1227)
      • Of nearness to her sundered things (607)
      • Publication is the auction (709)
      • The spider holds a silver ball (605)
      • To die takes just a little while (255)
      • 'Twas like a maelstrom, with a notch (414)
    • These RPO poems are based on editions of Emily Dickinson's poetry in 1890, 1891, and 1896, published after her death. These texts, edited by her friends, evidently differ in minutiae (punctuation, lineation) as well as occasionally in wording from the originals on which they were based. Her friends numbered these poems under general thematic subsections (the names of which are omitted in this edition). The words of the existing manuscripts remain in copyright to Harvard University Press, evidently because they have only been published in the past 75 years. Any substantial variation from the existing manuscripts is noted in textual notes to these poems. Readers should pay careful attention to these changes.

Given Name
Family Name
Birth Date
0, 1830
Death Date
0, 1886
Literary Period
Literary Movement