Emily Dickinson
1830 - 1886
The life of
Emily Dickinson:

Emily was born December 10th, 1830 in Amherst, Massachusetts

She studied at Mount Holyoke Female Seminary but was removed by
her father due to her ill health, and never received formal
qualifications

Because she was very shy and sometimes awkward in social
situations, Emily was almost completely secluded by the age of 30

Emily completed around 1,700 poems in her lifetime, along with
hundreds of heartfelt letters she used for communication because of
her seclusion

She died prematurely at the age of 55 in 1886 due to Bright’s disease

Several years after Emily’s death, her sister Vinnie discovered her
poems and decided to publish them despite Emily’s instructions to
burn them

A book of Emily’s poems was published in 1893, and soon became
extremely popular
Conrad Aiken- “Perhaps the finest poetry by a woman in the English
language…”
J.S Porter- “[She] penned a single Shakespearean tragedy with one
character, herself, with one prop, her brain, and with one theme,
terror. “
Joyce Carol Oates- “Dickinson is one of very few poets whose work
repays countless readings, through a lifetime.”
Criticism of Emily Dickinson:
“I stepped from plank to plank”
-Emily Dickinson
I stepped from plank to plank
So slow and cautiously;
The stars about my head I felt,
About my feet the sea.
I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch,—
This gave me that precarious gait
Some call experience.
I stepped from plank to plank…
Rhyme Scheme:
ABCB ABCB
(The last stanza contains slant rhyme for lines 6 and 8)
Inversion:
“The stars about my head I felt” (Line 3)
Meter:
Irregular pattern of iambs
Theme:
The poet ‘steps from plank to plank’, or walks through life,
cautiously because she knows that life is short and its experiences should be
enjoyed.
Ellipsis:
In lines 3 and 4, the poet omits words to create an affect,
but the reader still understands what is being said.
Song for Emily Dickinson
Resources:
• http://www.bartleby.com/113/1136.html
• http://www.biographyonline.net/poets/emily_dickinson
• www.jstor.org/stable/2920135
• http://www.usfca.edu/jco/