Emily Dickinson

The Passive Guy is posting about Emily Dickinson today, apparently because he was reminded of a line of poetry: “There is no frigate like a book.”

He quotes the poem in full, which isn’t hard, because like most of her poems, it is short:

There is no Frigate like a Book
To take us Lands away,
Nor any Coursers like a Page
Of prancing Poetry –
This Traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of Toll –
How frugal is the Chariot
That bears a Human soul.

This is a fine poem and I like it very much. But it isn’t the one of Dickinson’s that I find easiest to remember, and in fact if you ever, for any odd reason, need or want to memorize an entire poem, I recommend this one:

To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee
One clover and a bee –
And reverie.
The reverie alone will do
If bees are few

There, that’s quite lovely, and also the shortest poem I know.

I have to admit that, like another sheep following the herd, I particularly like most of the really popular Dickinson poems, the ones that make their way into every collection of poetry and that are perhaps most likely to be found in high school literature textbooks. For example, this one:

There’s a certain Slant of light,
Winter Afternoons –
That oppresses, like the Heft
Of Cathedral Tunes –

Heavenly Hurt, it gives us –
We can find no scar,
But internal difference –
Where the Meanings, are –

None may teach it – Any –
‘Tis the seal Despair –
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the Air –

When it comes, the Landscape listens –
Shadows – hold their breath –
When it goes, ’tis like the Distance
On the look of Death –

That one is hard to beat.

But so is this one, which I don’t think I encountered until much later, when I picked up a complete book of Dickinson’s poems:

I dwell in Possibility –
A fairer House than Prose –
More numerous of Windows –
Superior – for Doors –

Of Chambers as the Cedars –
Impregnable of eye –
And for an everlasting Roof
The Gambrels of the Sky –

Of Visitors – the fairest –
For Occupation – This –
The spreading wide my narrow Hands
To gather Paradise –

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2 thoughts on “Emily Dickinson”

  1. Beauty crowds me till I die
    Beauty mercy have on me
    But if I expire today
    Let it be in sight of thee—

    That’s the one I quote to myself when I’m hiking in the mountains.

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