Published on

The Poems of Emily Dickinson


Summary and Analysis of "Poems of Emily Dickinson"


Emily Dickinson's poetry, compiled posthumously in a series of three volumes and later in "The Single Hound," remains a profound exploration of life, love, and death. Her work reflects a unique perspective on the world, characterized by its deep intuition and engagement with everyday miracles.

Themes and Notable Poems

Life's Contradictions and Joys

  • "This is my letter to the world" reflects Dickinson's communication with the world through her poetry, an intimate message delivered with "tender majesty".
  • "Success is counted sweetest" captures the irony of life, where true understanding of success comes only to those who've never succeeded.

Soul's Journey and Challenges

  • "Soul wilt thou toss again?" delves into the soul's gamble, highlighting the high stakes of spiritual pursuits.
  • "'Tis so much joy! 'Tis so much joy!" juxtaposes life's joy with the potential for failure, underscoring the inherent risks and rewards of living fully.

Death and Loss

  • "Glee! the great storm is over!" depicts the aftermath of a shipwreck, juxtaposing the relief of survivors against the grief for those lost.
  • "If I can stop one heart from breaking" speaks to the poet's desire to alleviate suffering, asserting the value of kindness and empathy.

Nature and Transience

  • "A wounded deer leaps highest" uses vivid imagery to describe pain and resilience, symbolizing the hidden strength found in moments of vulnerability.
  • "I taste a liquor never brewed" celebrates nature's intoxicating beauty, conveying a sense of euphoria found in the natural world.

Solitude and Identity

  • "I'm nobody! Who are you?" humorously addresses the theme of identity and the allure of anonymity.
  • "The soul selects her own society" illustrates the soul's selective nature, preferring profound connections over superficial ones.

Pain and Suffering

  • "Pain has an element of blank" contemplates the nature of pain, its omnipresence, and its indelible impact on human experience.
  • "Through the straight pass of suffering" reflects on the spiritual journey through suffering, equating the endurance of pain with a form of martyrdom.

Reflections on Time and Existence

  • "A precious mouldering pleasure 'tis" romanticizes the past through the metaphor of an antique book.
  • "I found the phrase to every thought" speaks to the challenge of articulating profound thoughts.

Hope and Resilience

  • "Hope is the thing with feathers" personifies hope as a bird, enduring and resilient.
  • "I can wade grief" juxtaposes grief with joy, illustrating the overwhelming nature of both emotions.


Emily Dickinson's poems offer a kaleidoscope of human emotions and experiences. Her unique voice and style continue to captivate readers, resonating through her contemplations on life, nature, death, and beyond.