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
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
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:
(The last stanza contains slant rhyme for lines 6 and 8)
“The stars about my head I felt” (Line 3)
Irregular pattern of iambs
The poet ‘steps from plank to plank’, or walks through life,
cautiously because she knows that life is short and its experiences should be
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
• http://www.bartleby.com/113/1136.html
• http://www.biographyonline.net/poets/emily_dickinson
• www.jstor.org/stable/2920135
• http://www.usfca.edu/jco/