Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) was one of our most prolific nineteenth-century American poets. Born in Amherst, Massachusetts, she lived a quiet and solitary life and never married. An important influence in her life was the Calvinist Pastor Charles Wadsworth, who was not just a friend but a source of inspiration. In her solitude, she wrote of the mysteries of life, love, and death. Nearly her entire collection was not discovered until after she died, for in her life of seclusion, she submitted only seven of her poems for publication during her lifetime.
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
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,
Their lessons scarcely done;
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.
I Never Saw A Moor
I never saw a moor,
I never saw the sea;
Yet know I how the heather looks,
And what a wave must be.
I never spoke with God,
Nor visited in heaven;
Yet certain am I of the spot
As if the chart were given.