Emily Dickinson (1830-1886), a contemporary of Walt Whitman, was not an admirer of his work. She liked short lines and deep thought. She was so shy and lived such an isolated life in her father’s house that the reader wonders how she could come up with anything to write about. The answer is she went into her heart and her imagination. The two short poems that follow shows us an extraordinary wisdom she found there:
288 (I'm nobody! Who are you?)
I'm nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us — don't tell!
They'd banish us, you know.
How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!
435 (Much Madness is divinest Sense)
Much Madness is divinest Sense—
To a discerning Eye—
Much Sense—the starkest Madness—
'Tis the Majority
In this, as All, prevail—
Assent—and you are sane—
Demur—you're straightway dangerous—
And handled with a Chain—
Further Reading: Alfred Habegger’s My wars are laid away in books : the life of Emily Dickinson; Helen Vendler’s Poets thinking : Pope, Whitman, Dickinson, Yeats -- both in our library.
Coming next: Robert Frost