Selected Poems by Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

(Be prepared to write paragraphs which explain Dickinson's intentions in  each poem.)


The cricket sang,  
And set the sun,
And workmen finished, one by one,
  Their seam the day upon.  

The low grass loaded with the dew,
The twilight stood as strangers do
With hat in hand, polite and new,
  To stay as if, or go.  

A vastness, as a neighbor, came,
—A wisdom without face or name,
A peace, as hemispheres at home,—
  And so the night became.


Ample make this Bed--
Make this Bed with Awe--
In it wait till Judgement break
Excellent and Fair.

Be it’s Mattress straight--
Be its pillow round--
Let no sunrise’ yellow noise
Interrupt this Ground--

c.1864 1891


The Bustle in a House
The Morning after Death
Is solemnest of industries
Enacted upon Earth--

The Sweeping up the Heart
And putting Love away
We shall not want to use again
Until Eternity.

c.1866 1890


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 strove
At Recess-- in the Ring--
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain--
We passed the Setting Sun--

Or rather-- He passed Us--
The Dews drew Quivering and chill--
For only Gossamer, my Gown--
My Tippet-- only Tulle--

We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground--
The Roof was scarcely visible--
The Cornice-- in the Ground--

Since then-- ‘tis Centuries-- and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses Heads
Were toward Eternity--

c.1863 1890


I felt a Funeral, in my Brain,
And Mourners to and fro
Kept treading-- treading-- till it seemed
That Sense was breaking through--

And when they all were seated,
A Service, like a Drum--
Kept beating-- beating-- till I thought
My Mind was going numb--

And then I heard them lift a Box
And creak across my Soul
With those same Boots of Lead, again,
Then Space-- began to toll,

As all the Heavens were a Bell,
And Being, but an Ear,
And I, and Silence, some strange Race
Wrecked, solitary, here--

And then a Plank in Reason, broke,
And I dropped down, and down--
And hit a World, at every plunge,
And Finished knowing-- then--

c. 1861 1896



I heard a Fly buzz-- when I died--
The Stillness in the Room
Was like the Stillness in the Air--
Between the Heaves of Storm--

The Eyes around- had wrung them dry--
And Breaths were gathering firm
For that last Onset-- when the King
Be witnessed-- in the Room--

I willed my Keepsakes-- Signed away
What portion of me be
Assignable-- and then it was
There interposed a Fly--

With Blue-- uncertain stumbling Buzz--
Between the light-- and me--
And then the Windows failed-- and then
I could not see to see--

c.1862 1896



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--