Emily Dickinson’s poetry always felt to me — even when I was in grade school — like the fleeting thought-tendrils of a woman on the edge of some yawning chasm. As if these fragmented-feeling verses were some diaphanous grappling hook she hoped but didn’t expect someone would catch and reel her into their intellectual embrace.
Wild nights — Wild nights! (#269)
Wild nights — Wild nights!
Were I with thee
Wild nights should be
Futile — the winds —
To a Heart in port —
Done with the Compass —
Done with the Chart!
Rowing in Eden —
Ah — the Sea!
Might I but moor — tonight —
Emily Dickinson, in full Emily Elizabeth Dickinson, (born December 10, 1830, Amherst, Massachusetts, U.S.—died May 15, 1886, Amherst), American lyric poet who lived in seclusion and commanded a singular brilliance of style and integrity of vision. With Walt Whitman, Dickinson is widely considered to be one of the two leading 19th-century American poets.
Only 10 of Emily Dickinson’s nearly 1,800 poems are known to have been published in her lifetime. Devoted to private pursuits, she sent hundreds of poems to friends and correspondents while apparently keeping the greater number to herself. She habitually worked in verse forms suggestive of hymns and ballads, with lines of three or four stresses. Her unusual off-rhymes have been seen as both experimental and influenced by the 18th-century hymnist Isaac Watts. She freely ignored the usual rules of versification and even of grammar, and in the intellectual content of her work she likewise proved exceptionally bold and original. Her verse is distinguished by its epigrammatic compression, haunting personal voice, enigmatic brilliance, and lack of high polish.
This biographical information is quoted from the Encyclopaedia Britannica. I admit I might not entirely agree with the phrase “lack of high polish.” For more on Dickinson’s life and literary development, click here.