Emily Dickinson

(1830—1886) American poet

Show Summary Details

Quick Reference


American poet, who gradually withdrew into an inner world, eventually, in her forties, refusing to leave her home, although she maintained intimate correspondence with people she never saw face to face. Only seven poems out of nearly 2,000 are known to have been published during her lifetime. From c.1858 she assembled many of her poems in packets or ‘fascicles’, which were discovered after her death; a selection, arranged and edited by Mabel Loomis Todd and T. W. Higginson, appeared in 1890; eventually other editions and volumes of letters appeared, restoring her individual punctuation and presentation. Her work presents recurrent themes—a mystic apprehension of the natural world, a preoccupation with poetic vocation, fame, death, and immortality—and is expressed in a rhetoric and language of her own, cryptic, elliptical, and at times self‐dramatizing and hyperbolic. Her imagery reflects an intense and painful inner struggle over many years, and her verse is full of allusions to volcanoes, shipwrecks, funerals, storms, imprisonments, and other manifestations of natural and human violence.

Subjects: Literature.

Reference entries

See all related reference entries in Oxford Index »

Works by Emily Dickinson

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.