Appreciating all that makes America special

Emily Dickinson

Though her collection was published after her death, it was heavily edited by those who, you know, knew better than she did. It wasn't until 1955 that her versions were published. Uploaded by connieknapp.blogspot.com.

Not often we go back to the 19th century for our selections, so when we do, you know it must be worthy. Certainly, Emily Dickinson is one of America’s greatest poets, and probably its best woman poet. Who else is even in the conversation? Elizabeth Barrett Browning? Amy Lowell? No, Emily Dickinson has no serious challengers.

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Lest today’s poets think the current publishing environment puts them at a disadvantage for getting their works in print, Dickinson had less than a dozen poems published while she lived. While a collection of her poetry was published several years following her death, it was edited by well-meaning friends who “knew better” what Dickinson “meant” to say. It wasn’t until 1955 that a mostly unedited collection of poetry became available.

After her death, Dickinson’s sister discovered large volumes of her work – now believed to be about 1,775 poems in total. Because the Belle of Amherst didn’t give formal titles to a lot of her poems, they’re often known by their first lines. Here’s the first stanza of one of her  most famous:

Because I could not stop for Death—
He kindly stopped for me—
The Carriage held but just Ourselves—
And Immortality.

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