Top positive review
Reviewed in the United States on February 13, 2020
Emily Dickinson has been one of my favorite poets since high school, and over the years I've
carried a few of her opening lines with me. This collection links at the end to the first lines, which
are the easiest titles for me to remember. A few favorites are:
Because I Could Not Stop For Death
I Heard A Fly Buzz When I Died
I Never Saw A Moor
I Taste A Liquor Never Brewed
I'm Nobody? Who Are You?
Much Madness Is Divinest Sense
Some Keep the Sabbath Going to Church
Success Is Counted Sweetest
To Lose One's Faith Surpasses
In this collection of three books, each time that I encountered one that I already knew
it was like visiting a friend. There also were poems that were new to me, and I'd like
to give some samples.
p. 5 If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.
p. 58 I shall know why, when time is over,
And I have ceased to wonder why;
Christ will explain each separate anguish
In the fair schoolroom of the sky.
He will tell me what Peter promised,
And I, for wonder at his woe,
I shall forget the drop of anguish
That scalds me now, that scalds me now.
On page 60, the introduction to book 2, Mary Loomis Todd comments.
"Emily Dickinson scrutinized everything with clear-eyed frankness. Every subject was proper
ground for legitimate study, even the sombre facts of death and burial, and the unknown life
beyond. She touches these themes sometimes lightly, sometimes almost humorously, more
often with weird and peculiar power; but she is never by any chance frivolous or trivial. And while,
as one critic has said, she may exhibit toward God 'an Emersonian self-possession', it was because
she looked upon all life with a candor as unprejudiced as it is rare.
She had tried society and the world, and found them lacking. She was not an invalid, and she lived
in seclusion from no love-disappointment. Her life was the normal blossoming of a nature introspective
to a high degree, whose best thought could not exist in pretence.
Storm, wind, the wild March sky, sunsets and dawns, the birds and bees, butterflies and flowers of her
garden, with a few trusted human friends, were sufficient companionship. The coming of the first robin
was a jubilee beyond crowning of monarch or birthday of pope; the first red leaf hurrying through 'the
altered air', an epoch. Immortality was close about her; and while never morbid or melancholy, she lived
in its presence". Amherst, Massachusetts, August, 1891.
I really identified with the experience of being a recluse. As an adult who has been very extroverted
at times and then withdrawn from society for years at a time, the connection with this great soul is all