Selected Poetry from Emily Dickenson (1830-1866)



The leaves, like women, interchange

Sacacious confidence;

Somewhat of nods, and somewhat of

Portentous inference,


The parties in both cases

Enjoining secrecy,--

Inviolable compact

To notoriety.




I NEVER heard the word "escape"

Without a quicker blood,

A sudden expectation,

A flying attitude.


I never hear of prisons broad

By soldiers battered down,

But I tug childish at my bars,--

Only to fail again!




Because I could not stop for Death,

He kindly stopped for me;

The carriage held but just ourselves

And Immortality.


We slowly drove, he knew no haste,

And I had put away

My labor, and my leisure too,

For his civility.


We passed the school where children played,

Their lessons scarcely done;

We passed the fields of grazing grain,

We passed the settling sun.


We paused before a house that seemed

A swelling of the ground;

The roof was scarcely visible.

The cornice but a mound.


Since then 't is centuries; but each

Feels shorter than the day

I first surmised the horses' heads

Were toward eternity.




I died for beauty, but was scarce

Adjusted in the tomb,

When one who died for truth was lain

In an adjoining room.


He questioned softly why I failed?

"For beauty," I replied.

"And I for truth--the two are one;

We brethren are," he said.


And so, as kinsmen met at night,

We talked between the rooms,

Until the moss had reached our lips,

And covered up our names.




A precious, mouldering pleasure 't is

To meet an antique book,

In just the dress his century wore;

A privelege, I think,


His venerable hand to take,

And warming in our own,

A passage back, or two, to make

To times when he was young.


His quaint opinions to inspect,

His knowledge to unfold

On what concerns our mutual mind,

The literature of old;


What interested scholars most,

What competitions ran

When Plato was a certainty,

And Sophocles a man;


Wen Sappho was a living girl,

And Beatrice wore

The gown that Dante deified.

Fact, centuries before,


He traverses familiar,

As one should come to town

And tell you all your dreams were true:

He lived where dreams were sown.


His presence is enchantment,

You beg him not to go;

Old volumes shake their vellum heads

And tantalize, just so.