Featured Poet: Emily Dickinson

So, it was my plan to feature only poets I know personally this whole month, which was going to be fun and all, but as I was grading a stack of tests this week, I realized that in one class where I’d offered the students the chance to write about a Florence + the Machine song versus an Emily Dickinson poem, only one person chose dear Emily. Now, granted, that song was awesome and did in fact dovetail nicely with the unit we had been studying, and the poem was more challenging and required more thoughtful analysis — but it was awesome and dovetailed nicely, too.

Anyway, I’ve decided to feature this poem tonight because it’s one of my favorites by Emily Dickinson. I don’t think I need to put a bio for her, do I?


My Life had stood — a Loaded Gun (754 or 764)


My Life had stood — a Loaded Gun —
In Corners — till a Day
The Owner passed — identified —
And carried Me away —

And now We roam in Sovereign Woods —
And now We hunt the Doe —
And every time I speak for Him
The Mountains straight reply —

And do I smile, such cordial light
Upon the Valley glow —
It is as a Vesuvian face
Had let its pleasure through —

And when at Night — Our good Day done —
I guard My Master’s Head —
‘Tis better than the Eider-Duck’s
Deep Pillow — to have shared —

To foe of His — I’m deadly foe —
None stir the second time —
On whom I lay a Yellow Eye —
Or an emphatic Thumb —

Though I than He — may longer live
He longer must — than I —
For I have but the power to kill,
Without — the power to die —


2 thoughts on “Featured Poet: Emily Dickinson

  1. ED is one of my favourite poets of all time. You could even say I have a huge, unrequited crush on her. I refuse to buy a book of her poems, however, so that I can come across her work serendipitously and constantly be surprised and delighted. I love the way that her mind seems to work at right-angles to everyone else’s, and her train-of-thought switch direction suddenly. I love her almost constant use of English Hymn Metre.

    On several occasions I have written ‘to’ her, in reply to poems of hers, mainly because I love that metre too. Here’s one, in reply to one of her most famous poems – it’s called ‘The Liberty to Die’:

    The liberty to die
    – The sole, unchallenged gift
    To hearts from their Inquisitor –
    Is consequent on life;

    The ambuscade of love
    With all attendant wounds
    Is why, within a world of pain,
    The heart asks pleasure first.

    Liked by 1 person

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