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Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson

by Emily Dickinson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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3,076213,423 (4.16)11
The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson, by Emily Dickinson, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics: New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars Biographies of the authors Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events Footnotes and endnotes Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work Comments by other famous authors Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations Bibliographies for further reading Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences--biographical, historical, and literary--to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.   Born in Amherst, Massachusetts in 1830, Dickinson began life as an energetic, outgoing young woman who excelled as a student. However, in her mid-twenties she began to grow reclusive, and eventually she rarely descended from her room in her father’s house. She spent most of her time working on her poetry, largely without encouragement or real interest from her family and peers, and died at age fifty-five. Only a handful of her 1,775 poems had been published during her lifetime. When her poems finally appeared after her death, readers immediately recognized an artist whose immense depth and stylistic complexities would one day make her the most widely recognized female poet to write in the English language. Dickinson’s poetry is remarkable for its tightly controlled emotional and intellectual energy. The longest poem covers less than two pages. Yet in theme and tone her writing reaches for the sublime as it charts the landscape of the human soul. A true innovator, Dickinson experimented freely with conventional rhythm and meter, and often used dashes, off rhymes, and unusual metaphors--techniques that strongly influenced modern poetry. Dickinson’s idiosyncratic style, along with her deep resonance of thought and her observations about life and death, love and nature, and solitude and society, have firmly established her as one of America’s true poetic geniuses. Includes an index of first lines.… (more)
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Although Dickinson had begun composing verse by her late teens, few of her early poems are extant. Among them are two of the burlesque “Valentines”—the exuberantly inventive expressions of affection and esteem she sent to friends of her youth. Two other poems dating from the first half of the 1850s draw a contrast between the world as it is and a more peaceful alternative, variously eternity or a serene imaginative order. All her known juvenilia were sent to friends and engage in a striking play of visionary fancies, a direction in which she was encouraged by the popular, sentimental book of essays Reveries of a Bachelor: Or a Book of the Heart by Ik. Marvel (the pseudonym of Donald Grant Mitchell). Dickinson’s acts of fancy and reverie, however, were more intricately social than those of Marvel’s bachelor, uniting the pleasures of solitary mental play, performance for an audience, and intimate communion with another. It may be because her writing began with a strong social impetus that her later solitude did not lead to a meaningless hermeticism.

Until Dickinson was in her mid-20s, her writing mostly took the form of letters, and a surprising number of those that she wrote from age 11 onward have been preserved. Sent to her brother, Austin, or to friends of her own sex, especially Abiah Root, Jane Humphrey, and Susan Gilbert (who would marry Austin), these generous communications overflow with humour, anecdote, invention, and sombre reflection. In general, Dickinson seems to have given and demanded more from her correspondents than she received. On occasion she interpreted her correspondents’ laxity in replying as evidence of neglect or even betrayal. Indeed, the loss of friends, whether through death or cooling interest, became a basic pattern for Dickinson. Much of her writing, both poetic and epistolary, seems premised on a feeling of abandonment and a matching effort to deny, overcome, or reflect on a sense of solitude.

Dickinson’s closest friendships usually had a literary flavour. She was introduced to the poetry of Ralph Waldo Emerson by one of her father’s law students, Benjamin F. Newton, and to that of Elizabeth Barrett Browning by Susan Gilbert and Henry Vaughan Emmons, a gifted college student. Two of Barrett Browning’s works, “A Vision of Poets,” describing the pantheon of poets, and Aurora Leigh, on the development of a female poet, seem to have played a formative role for Dickinson, validating the idea of female greatness and stimulating her ambition. Though she also corresponded with Josiah G. Holland, a popular writer of the time, he counted for less with her than his appealing wife, Elizabeth, a lifelong friend and the recipient of many affectionate letters.

In 1855 Dickinson traveled to Washington, D.C., with her sister and father, who was then ending his term as U.S. representative. On the return trip the sisters made an extended stay in Philadelphia, where it is thought the poet heard the preaching of Charles Wadsworth, a fascinating Presbyterian minister whose pulpit oratory suggested (as a colleague put it) “years of conflict and agony.” Seventy years later, Martha Dickinson Bianchi, the poet’s niece, claimed that Emily had fallen in love with Wadsworth, who was married, and then grandly renounced him. The story is too highly coloured for its details to be credited; certainly, there is no evidence the minister returned the poet’s love. Yet it is true that a correspondence arose between the two and that Wadsworth visited her in Amherst about 1860 and again in 1880. After his death in 1882, Dickinson remembered him as “my Philadelphia,” “my dearest earthly friend,” and “my Shepherd from ‘Little Girl’hood.”

Always fastidious, Dickinson began to restrict her social activity in her early 20s, staying home from communal functions and cultivating intense epistolary relationships with a reduced number of correspondents. In 1855, leaving the large and much-loved house (since razed) in which she had lived for 15 years, the 25-year-old woman and her family moved back to the dwelling associated with her first decade: the Dickinson mansion on Main Street in Amherst. Her home for the rest of her life, this large brick house, still standing, has become a favourite destination for her admirers. She found the return profoundly disturbing, and when her mother became incapacitated by a mysterious illness that lasted from 1855 to 1859, both daughters were compelled to give more of themselves to domestic pursuits. Various events outside the home—a bitter Norcross family lawsuit, the financial collapse of the local railroad that had been promoted by the poet’s father, and a powerful religious revival that renewed the pressure to “convert”—made the years 1857 and 1858 deeply troubling for Dickinson and promoted her further withdrawal. ( )
  Marcos_Augusto | Jan 19, 2022 |
Apparently Emily Dickinson is just not for me. I just found it boring and unengaging (with the occasional neat use of words that wasn't frequent enough to interest me). ( )
  Aug3Zimm | Sep 22, 2021 |
It was quite the journey reading through Emily Dickinson’s collected poems. It was like quietly observing her go through life, and sharing in those experiences. Her poetry spoke to me on such a deep level.

I strongly recommend having a dictionary handy as much of her terminology is not of present day, but it’s certainly worth the effort to garner that much more meaning from her words. ( )
  H4ppyN3rd | Oct 6, 2020 |
Utterly brilliant.

Although it's marked by time - and what really isn't? - in a way which isn't my marred, modern cup of tea, the sheer potency of Dickinson's language, rhythm, coinage of words and non-rhymes win me over completely, and take me to another level totally.

I shan't say more on the poetry itself, but the imagery painted is sharp, veering from "the usual" in a way that has lived for more than a hundred years and will continue living forever, I'm sure.

While this collection does not contain all of her poems, it is annotated with short sentences on names, places and references, e.g. to passages from the christian bible and other poets.

This collection's only real flaw: it's too short. ( )
  pivic | Mar 21, 2020 |
Not sure how much "editing" Emily's friends and relatives contributed to this collection, virtually all of which are poems which Emily did not publish or even title before her death in 1886.

For example, the stark perplexity of "Going to Heaven!"

And it takes but little understanding to come to the realization that Emily's decisions about publication were utterly compromised by the reversals, hypocrisies, and gravity of the Civil War. And the relentless fraud of the Churches who prayed through all the suffering on all sides.

Finally, my readings largely concur with those who "see" that Emily Dickinson spoke robust and bold truth, with naked beauty, and unrelenting kindness.

Example for all who suffer curiosity and compassion:

Going to heaven!
I don't know when,
Pray do not ask me how,--
Indeed, I'm too astonished
To think of answering you!
Going to heaven!--
How dim it sounds!
And yet it will be done
As sure as flocks go home at night
Unto the shepherd's arm!

Perhaps you're going too!
Who knows?
If you should get there first,
Save just a little place for me
Close to the two I lost!
The smallest "robe" will fit me,
And just a bit of "crown";
For you know we do not mind our dress
When we are going home.

I'm glad I don't believe it,
For it would stop my breath,
And I'd like to look a little more
At such a curious earth!
I am glad they did believe it
Whom I have never found
Since the mighty autumn afternoon
I left them in the ground. ( )
  keylawk | Sep 14, 2019 |
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» Add other authors (31 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dickinson, EmilyAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bianchi, Martha DickinsonEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gesner, GeorgeIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Higginson, Thomas Wentworthsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Todd, Mabel LoomisEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wetzsteon, RachelIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Related movies
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Epigraph
Dedication
First words
Quotations
I measure every grief I meet
With analytic eyes;
I wonder if it weighs like mine,
Or has an easier size.

I wonder if they bore it long,
Or did it just begin?
I could not tell the date of mine,
It feels so old a pain.
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Disambiguation notice
"Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson" is the collection of the three volumes of poetry originally published in 1890, 1891, and 1896; it was edited by Mary Loomis Todd and Thomas Wentworth Higginson.
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The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson, by Emily Dickinson, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics: New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars Biographies of the authors Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events Footnotes and endnotes Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work Comments by other famous authors Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations Bibliographies for further reading Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences--biographical, historical, and literary--to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.   Born in Amherst, Massachusetts in 1830, Dickinson began life as an energetic, outgoing young woman who excelled as a student. However, in her mid-twenties she began to grow reclusive, and eventually she rarely descended from her room in her father’s house. She spent most of her time working on her poetry, largely without encouragement or real interest from her family and peers, and died at age fifty-five. Only a handful of her 1,775 poems had been published during her lifetime. When her poems finally appeared after her death, readers immediately recognized an artist whose immense depth and stylistic complexities would one day make her the most widely recognized female poet to write in the English language. Dickinson’s poetry is remarkable for its tightly controlled emotional and intellectual energy. The longest poem covers less than two pages. Yet in theme and tone her writing reaches for the sublime as it charts the landscape of the human soul. A true innovator, Dickinson experimented freely with conventional rhythm and meter, and often used dashes, off rhymes, and unusual metaphors--techniques that strongly influenced modern poetry. Dickinson’s idiosyncratic style, along with her deep resonance of thought and her observations about life and death, love and nature, and solitude and society, have firmly established her as one of America’s true poetic geniuses. Includes an index of first lines.

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