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Emily Dickinson

Seemingly paradoxical themes of grief and joy work their way through Emily Dickinson’s poems like an intimate dialogue. She dives with us into the night of the human experience and then soars above to the wonder of the rising sun.  She touches those deep feelings that can be so hard to hold and even harder to truly know. 

By carefully bundling the elusive and complex makeup of the human heart, her compact verse allows us to look at our emotions in a whole new way.  The result can feel like a poetic morse code that goes straight to the soul, every piece connected and pointing at something. The universal and the personal blend in a way that reveals how indistinguishable the lines at the edges truly are.

Intensely private and often misunderstood, her work seems to encompass the magnitude of life lived and encourages us to feel it all. Even through agony and despair, Emily lights the way to remind us that the “soul should always stand ajar...”


In this short Life that only lasts an hour

How much - how little - is within our power


The Soul should always stand ajar

That if the Heaven inquire

He will not be obliged to wait

Or shy of troubling Her

Depart, before the Host have slid

The Bolt unto the Door —

To search for the accomplished Guest,

Her Visitor, no more —


I dwell in Possibility –

A fairer House than Prose –

More numerous of Windows –

Superior – for Doors –

Of Chambers as the Cedars –

Impregnable of eye –

And for an everlasting Roof

The Gambrels of the Sky –

Of Visitors – the fairest –

For Occupation – This –

The spreading wide my narrow Hands

To gather Paradise –


I measure every Grief I meet With narrow, probing, Eyes — I wonder if It weighs like Mine — Or has an Easier size.

I wonder if They bore it long — Or did it just begin — I could not tell the Date of Mine — It feels so old a pain —

I wonder if it hurts to live — And if They have to try — And whether — could They choose between — It would not be — to die —

I note that Some — gone patient long — At length, renew their smile — An imitation of a Light That has so little Oil —

I wonder if when Years have piled — Some Thousands — on the Harm — That hurt them early — such a lapse Could give them any Balm —

Or would they go on aching still Through Centuries of Nerve — Enlightened to a larger Pain — In Contrast with the Love —

The Grieved — are many — I am told — There is the various Cause — Death — is but one — and comes but once — And only nails the eyes —

There's Grief of Want — and Grief of Cold — A sort they call "Despair" — There's Banishment from native Eyes — In sight of Native Air —

And though I may not guess the kind — Correctly — yet to me A piercing Comfort it affords In passing Calvary —

To note the fashions — of the Cross — And how they're mostly worn — Still fascinated to presume That Some — are like My Own —

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