Selected Emily Dickinson Quotations
This is my letter to the world
• This is my letter to the world,
That never wrote to me,
The simple news that Nature told,
With tender majesty.
Her message is committed,
To hands I cannot see;
For love of her, sweet countrymen,
Judge tenderly of me.
If I can stop one heart from breaking
• 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.
• We meet no Stranger, but Ourself
• The soul should always stand ajar. Ready to welcome the ecstatic experience.
• To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else.
• I believe the love of God may be taught not to seem like bears.
• The Soul selects her own society
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 advertise – you know! How dreary – to be – Somebody! How public – like a Frog – To tell one's name – the livelong June – To an admiring Bog!
We never know how high we are
We never know how high we are Till we are called to rise; And then, if we are true to plan, Our statures touch the skies. The heroism we recite Would be a daily thing, Did not ourselves the cubits warp For fear to be a king.
There is no frigate like a book
There is no frigate like a book To take us lands away, Nor any coursers like a page Of prancing poetry. This traverse may the poorest take Without oppress of toll; How frugal is the chariot That bears a human soul!
Success is counted sweetest
Success is counted sweetest By those who ne’er succeed. To comprehend a nectar Requires sorest need. Not one of all the purple host Who took the flag to-day Can tell the definition, So clear, of victory, As he, defeated, dying, On whose forbidden ear The distant strains of triumph Break, agonized and clear.
Some keep the Sabbath going to church
Some keep the Sabbath going to church; I keep it staying at home, With a bobolink for a chorister, And an orchard for a dome. Some keep the Sabbath in surplice; I just wear my wings, And instead of tolling the bell for church, Our little sexton sings. God preaches, — a noted clergyman, — And the sermon is never long; So instead of getting to heaven at last, I’m going all along!
The brain is wider than the sky
The brain is wider than the sky, For, put them side by side, The one the other will include With ease, and you beside. The brain is deeper than the sea, For, hold them, blue to blue, The one the other will absorb, As sponges, buckets do. The brain is just the weight of God, For, lift them, pound for pound, And they will differ, if they do, As syllable from sound.
"Faith" is a fine invention
"Faith" is a fine invention When Gentlemen can see — But Microscopes are prudent In an Emergency.
Faith is a fine invention For gentlemen who see; But microscopes are prudent In an emergency.
Hope is the thing with feathers
Hope is the thing with feathers That perches in the soul, And sings the tune without the words, And never stops at all, And sweetest in the gale is heard; And sore must be the storm That could abash the little bird That kept so many warm. I’ve heard it in the chillest land, And on the strangest sea; Yet, never, in extremity, It asked a crumb of me.
Look back on time with kindly eyes
Look back on time with kindly eyes, He doubtless did his best; How softly sinks his trembling sun In human nature’s west!
Afraid? Of whom am I afraid?
Afraid? Of whom am I afraid? Not death; for who is he? The porter of my father’s lodge As much abasheth me. Of life? ‘T were odd I fear a thing That comprehendeth me In one or more existences At Deity’s decree. Of resurrection? Is the east Afraid to trust the morn With her fastidious forehead? As soon impeach my crown!
The right to perish might be thought
The right to perish might be thought An undisputed right, Attempt it, and the Universe upon the opposite Will concentrate its officers — You cannot even die, But Nature and Mankind must pause To pay you scrutiny.
Love is anterior to life
Love — is anterior to Life — Posterior — to Death — Initial of Creation, and The Exponent of Earth.
The last night that she lived
The last night that she lived, It was a common night, Except the dying; this to us Made nature different. We noticed smallest things, — Things overlooked before, By this great light upon our minds Italicized, as ’t were. That others could exist While she must finish quite, A jealousy for her arose So nearly infinite. We waited while she passed; It was a narrow time, Too jostled were our souls to speak, At length the notice came. She mentioned, and forgot; Then lightly as a reed Bent to the water, shivered scarce, Consented, and was dead. And we, we placed the hair, And drew the head erect; And then an awful leisure was, Our faith to regulate.
A word is dead
A word is dead When it is said, Some say. I say it just Begins to live That day.
• Of 'shunning Men and Women' — they talk of Hallowed things, aloud — and embarrass my Dog — He and I dont object to them, if they'll exist their side. I think Carlo would please you — He is dumb, and brave — I think you would like the Chestnut Tree, I met in my walk. It hit my notice suddenly — and I thought the Skies were in Blossom —
• For my companions — the Hills — Sir — and the Sundown — and a Dog — large as myself, that my Father bought me — They are better than Beings — because they know — but do not tell.
• Behind Me — dips Eternity —
Before Me — Immortality —
Myself — the Term between —
• Susan Gilbert Dickinson to Emily Dickinson in 1861, "If a nightingale sings with her breast against a thorn, why not we?"
Because I could not stop for Death
Because I could not stop for Death, He kindly stopped for me; The carriage held but just ourselves And Immortality. We slowly drove, he knew no haste, And I had put away My labor, and my leisure too, For his civility. We passed the school where children played At wrestling in a ring; We passed the fields of gazing grain, We passed the setting sun. We paused before a house that seemed A swelling of the ground; The roof was scarcely visible, The cornice but a mound. Since then ’t is centuries; but each Feels shorter than the day I first surmised the horses’ heads Were toward eternity.
My life closed twice before its close
or, Parting is all we know of heaven
My life closed twice before its close; It yet remains to see If Immortality unveil A third event to me, So huge, so hopeless to conceive, As these that twice befell. Parting is all we know of heaven, And all we need of hell.
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About These Quotes
Quote collection assembled by Jone Johnson Lewis. Each quotation page in this collection and the entire collection © Jone Johnson Lewis 1997-2005. This is an informal collection assembled over many years. I regret that I am not be able to provide the original source if it is not listed with the quote.
Jone Johnson Lewis. "Emily Dickinson Quotes." About Women's History. URL: http://womenshistory.about.com/cs/quotes/qu_em_dickinson.htm . Date accessed: (today). (More on how to cite online sources including this page)