Poems of Emily Dickinson, 1830-1886

This page includes 46 poems; If you'd like more, here are 64 additional poems. We compiled a brief biography of Emily Dickinson for you. Click here to read it. Purchase AO's Volume 4 poetry collection which includes Tennyson, Dickinson, and Wordsworth in paperback or Kindle ($amzn) (K)

01. I Never Saw a Moor
02. The Lost Jewel
03. A Book
04. The Wind's Visit
05. A Thunder-Storm
06. Beclouded
07. Summer Shower
08. If I Can Stop One From Breaking
09. A Word
10. The Railway Train
11. The Bee is Not Afraid of Me
12. As Children Bid the Guest Goodnight
13. A Day
14. The Pedigree of Honey
15. The Grass
16. Perhaps You'd Like to Buy a Flower
17. The Moon
18. Evening
19. Autumn
20. The Butterfly's Day
21. Fringed Gentian
22. The Snow
23. The Sea
24. Forbidden Fruit
25. The Woodpecker
26. Hope
27. May-Flower
28. Old-Fashioned
29. Have You Got a Brook in your Little Heart
30. Dawn
31. A Service of Song
32. Who Has Not Found the Heaven Below
33. Proof
34. I'm Nobody! Who Are You?
35. Nature is What we See
36. Sweet is the Swamp With its Secrets
37. The Duties of the Wind are Few
38. The Robin is the One
39. How Still the Bells in Steeples Stand
40. A Slash of Blue
41. The Saddest Noise, the Sweetest Noise
42. This Is My Letter To the World
43. Morning
44. The Hummingbird
45. The Snake
46. Indian Summer

01. 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.

02. The Lost Jewel

I held a jewel in my fingers
And went to sleep.
The day was warm, and winds were prosy;
I said: "'T'will keep."

I woke and chid my honest fingers,
The gem was gone;
And now an amethyst remembrance
Is all I own.

03. 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 the Human Soul ---

04. The Wind's Visit

The wind tapped like a tired man,
And like a host, "Come in,"
I boldly answered; entered then
My residence within

A rapid, footless guest,
To offer whom a chair
Were as impossible as hand
A sofa to the air.

No bone had he to bind him,
His speech was like the push
Of numerous humming-birds at once
From a superior bush.

His countenance a billow,
His fingers, if he pass,
Let go a music, as of tunes
Blown tremulous in glass.

He visited, still flitting;
Then, like a timid man,
Again he tapped 't was flurriedly
And I became alone.

05. A Thunder-Storm

The Wind begun to rock the Grass
With threatening Tunes and low ---
He threw a Menace at the Earth ---
A Menace at the Sky.

The Leaves unhooked themselves from Trees ---
And started all abroad
The Dust did scoop itself like Hands
And threw away the Road.

The Wagons quickened on the Streets
The Thunder hurried slow ---
The Lightning showed a Yellow Beak
And then a livid Claw.

The Birds put up the Bars to Nests ---
The Cattle fled to Barns ---
There came one drop of Giant Rain
And then as if the Hands

That held the Dams had parted hold
The Waters Wrecked the Sky,
But overlooked my Father's House ---
Just quartering a Tree ---

06. Beclouded

The Sky is low --- the Clouds are mean.
A Travelling Flake of Snow
Across a Barn or through a Rut
Debates if it will go ---

A Narrow Wind complains all Day
How some one treated him
Nature, like Us is sometimes caught
Without her Diadem.

07. Summer Shower

A Drop Fell on the Apple Tree ---
Another --- on the Roof ---
A Half a Dozen kissed the Eaves ---
And made the Gables laugh ---

A few went out to help the Brook
That went to help the Sea ---
Myself Conjectured were they Pearls ---
What Necklace could be ---

The Dust replaced, in Hoisted Roads ---
The Birds jocoser sung ---
The Sunshine threw his Hat away ---
The Bushes --- spangles flung ---

The Breezes brought dejected Lutes ---
And bathed them in the Glee ---
Then Orient showed a single Flag,
And signed the Fete away ---

08. 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.

09. A Word

A word is dead
When it is said,
Some say.
I say it just
Begins to live
That day.

10. The Railway Train

Boanerges, in the Victorian era, referred to loud preachers.

I like to see it lap the Miles ---
And lick the Valleys up ---
And stop to feed itself at Tanks ---
And then --- prodigious step

Around a Pile of Mountains ---
And supercilious peer
In Shanties --- by the sides of Roads ---
And then a Quarry pare

To fit its Ribs
And crawl between
Complaining all the while
In horrid --- hooting stanza ---
Then chase itself down Hill ---

And neigh like Boanerges ---
Then --- punctual as a Star
Stop --- docile and omnipotent
At its own stable door ---

11. The Bee is Not Afraid of Me

The bee is not afraid of me,
I know the butterfly;
The pretty people in the woods
Receive me cordially.

The brooks laugh louder when I come,
The breezes madder play.
Wherefore, mine eyes, thy silver mists?
Wherefore, O summer's day?

12. As Children Bid the Guest Goodnight

As children bid the guest good-night,
And then reluctant turn,
My flowers raise their pretty lips,
Then put their nightgowns on.

As children caper when they wake,
Merry that it is morn,
My flowers from a hundred cribs
Will peep, and prance again.

13. A Day

I'll tell you how the Sun rose ---
A Ribbon at a time ---
The Steeples swam in Amethyst ---
The news, like Squirrels, ran ---
The Hills untied their Bonnets ---
The Bobolinks --- begun ---
Then I said softly to myself ---
"That must have been the Sun"!
But how he set --- I know not ---
There seemed a purple stile
That little Yellow boys and girls
Were climbing all the while ---
Till when they reached the other side,
A Dominie in Gray ---
Put gently up the evening Bars ---
And led the flock away ---

14. The Pedigree of Honey

The pedigree of honey
Does not concern the bee;
A clover, any time, to him
Is aristocracy.

15. The Grass

The Grass so little has to do ---
A Sphere of simple Green ---
With only Butterflies to brood
And Bees to entertain ---

And stir all day to pretty Tunes
The Breezes fetch along ---
And hold the Sunshine in its lap
And bow to everything ---

And thread the Dews, all night, like Pearls ---
And make itself so fine
A Duchess were too common
For such a noticing ---

And even when it dies --- to pass
In Odors so divine ---
Like Lowly spices, lain to sleep ---
Or Spikenards, perishing ---

And then, in Sovereign Barns to dwell ---
And dream the Days away,
The Grass so little has to do
I wish I were a Hay ---

16. Perhaps You'd Like to Buy a Flower

Perhaps you'd like to buy a flower?
But I could never sell.
If you would like to borrow
Until the daffodil

Unties her yellow bonnet
Beneath the village door,
Until the bees, from clover rows
Their hock and sherry draw,

Why, I will lend until just then,
But not an hour more!

17. The Moon

The Moon was but a Chin of Gold
A Night or two ago ---
And now she turns Her perfect Face
Upon the World below ---

Her Forehead is of Amplest Blonde ---
Her Cheek --- a Beryl hewn ---
Her Eye unto the Summer Dew
The likest I have known ---

Her Lips of Amber never part ---
But what must be the smile
Upon Her Friend she could confer
Were such Her Silver Will ---

And what a privilege to be
But the remotest Star ---
For Certainty She take Her Way
Beside Your Palace Door ---

Her Bonnet is the Firmament ---
The Universe --- Her Shoe ---
The Stars --- the Trinkets at Her Belt ---
Her Dimities --- of Blue ---

18. Evening

The Crickets sang
And set the Sun
And Workmen finished one by one
Their Seam the Day upon.

The low Grass loaded with the Dew
The Twilight stood, as Strangers do
With Hat in Hand, polite and new
To stay as if, or go.

A Vastness, as a Neighbor, came,
A Wisdom, without Face, or Name,
A Peace, as Hemispheres at Home
And so the Night became.

19. Autumn

The morns are meeker than they were ---
The nuts are getting brown ---
The berry's cheek is plumper ---
The Rose is out of town.

The Maple wears a gayer scarf ---
The field a scarlet gown ---
Lest I should be old fashioned
I'll put a trinket on.

20. The Butterfly's Day

From Cocoon forth a Butterfly
As Lady from her Door
Emerged --- a Summer Afternoon ---
Repairing Everywhere ---

Without Design --- that I could trace
Except to stray abroad
On Miscellaneous Enterprise
The Clovers --- understood ---

Her pretty Parasol be seen
Contracting in a Field
Where Men made Hay ---
Then struggling hard
With an opposing Cloud ---

Where Parties --- Phantom as Herself ---
To Nowhere --- seemed to go
In purposeless Circumference ---
As 'twere a Tropic Show ---

And notwithstanding Bee --- that worked ---
And Flower --- that zealous blew ---
This Audience of Idleness
Disdained them, from the Sky ---

Till Sundown crept --- a steady Tide ---
And Men that made the Hay ---
And Afternoon --- and Butterfly ---
Extinguished --- in the Sea ---

21. Fringed Gentian

God made a little Gentian ---
It tried --- to be a Rose ---
And failed --- and all the Summer laughed ---
But just before the Snows

There rose a Purple Creature ---
That ravished all the Hill ---
And Summer hid her Forehead ---
And Mockery --- was still ---

The Frosts were her condition ---
The Tyrian would not come
Until the North --- invoke it ---
Creator --- Shall I --- bloom?

22. The Snow

It sifts from Leaden Sieves ---
It powders all the Wood.
It fills with Alabaster Wool
The Wrinkles of the Road ---

It makes an Even Face
Of Mountain, and of Plain ---
Unbroken Forehead from the East
Unto the East again ---

It reaches to the Fence ---
It wraps it Rail by Rail
Till it is lost in Fleeces ---
It deals Celestial Vail

To Stump, and Stack --- and Stem ---
A Summer's empty Room ---
Acres of Joints, where Harvests were,
Recordless, but for them--

It Ruffles Wrists of Posts
As Ankles of a Queen ---
Then stills its Artisans --- like Ghosts ---
Denying they have been ---

23. The Sea

An Everywhere of Silver
With Ropes of Sand
To keep it from effacing
The Track called Land.

24. Forbidden Fruit

"Heaven" --- is what I cannot reach!
The Apple on the Tree ---
Provided it do hopeless --- hang ---
That --- "Heaven" is --- to Me!

The Color, on the Cruising Cloud ---
The interdicted Land ---
Behind the Hill --- the House behind ---
There --- Paradise --- is found!

Her teasing Purples --- Afternoons ---
The credulous --- decoy ---
Enamored --- of the Conjurer ---
That spurned us --- Yesterday!

25. The Woodpecker

His Bill an Auger is
His Head, a Cap and Frill
He laboreth at every Tree
A Worm, His utmost Goal.

26. Hope

"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.

27. May-flower

Pink --- small --- and punctual ---
Aromatic --- low ---
Covert --- in April ---
Candid --- in May ---
Dear to the Moss ---
Known to the Knoll ---
Next to the Robin
In every human Soul ---
Bold little Beauty
Bedecked with thee
Nature forswears
Antiquity ---

28. Old-Fashioned

"Arcturus" is his other name ---
I'd rather call him "Star."
It's very mean of Science
To go and interfere!

I slew a worm the other day ---
A "Savant" passing by
Murmured "Resurgam" --- "Centipede"!
"Oh Lord --- how frail are we"!

I pull a flower from the woods ---
A monster with a glass
Computes the stamens in a breath ---
And has her in a "class"!

Whereas I took the Butterfly
Aforetime in my hat ---
He sits erect in "Cabinets" ---
The Clover bells forgot.

What once was "Heaven" Is "Zenith" now ---
Where I proposed to go
When Time's brief masquerade was done
Is mapped and charted too.

What if the poles should frisk about
And stand upon their heads!
I hope I'm ready for "the worst" ---
Whatever prank betides!

Perhaps the "Kingdom of Heaven's" changed ---
I hope the "Children" there
Won't be "new fashioned" when I come ---
And laugh at me --- and stare ---

I hope the Father in the skies
Will lift his little girl ---
Old fashioned --- naught --- everything ---
Over the stile of "Pearl."

29. Have You Got a Brook in your Little Heart

Have you got a brook in your little heart,
Where bashful flowers blow,
And blushing birds go down to drink,
And shadows tremble so?

And nobody knows, so still it flows,
That any brook is there;
And yet your little draught of life
Is daily drunken there.

Then look out for the little brook in March,
When the rivers overflow,
And the snows come hurrying from the hills,
And the bridges often go.

And later, in August it may be,
When the meadows parching lie,
Beware, lest this little brook of life
Some burning noon go dry!

30. Dawn

Not knowing when the Dawn will come,
I open every Door,
Or has it Feathers, like a Bird,
Or Billows, like a Shore ---

31. A Service of Song

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.

32. Who Has Not Found the Heaven Below

Who has not found the Heaven --- below ---
Will fail of it above ---
God's residence is next to mine
His furniture is love ---

33. Proof

That I did always love
I bring thee Proof
That till I loved
I never lived --- Enough ---

That I shall love alway ---
I argue thee
That love is life ---
And life hath Immortality ---

This --- dost thou doubt --- Sweet ---
Then have I
Nothing to show
But Calvary ---

34. 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!

35. Nature is What we See

"Nature" is what we see ---
The Hill --- the Afternoon ---
Squirrel --- Eclipse --- the Bumble bee ---
Nay --- Nature is Heaven ---
Nature is what we hear ---
The Bobolink --- the Sea ---
Thunder --- the Cricket ---
Nay --- Nature is Harmony ---
Nature is what we know ---
Yet have no art to say ---
So impotent Our Wisdom is
To her Simplicity.

36. Sweet is the Swamp With its Secrets

Sweet is the swamp with its secrets,
Until we meet a snake;
'T is then we sigh for houses,
And our departure take

At that enthralling gallop
That only childhood knows.
A snake is summer's treason,
And guile is where it goes.

37. The Duties of the Wind are Few

The duties of the Wind are few--
To cast the ships at Sea,
Establish March, the Floods escort,
And usher Liberty.

38. The Robin is the One

The Robin is the One
That interrupt the Morn
With hurried --- few --- express Reports
When March is scarcely on ---

The Robin is the One
That overflow the Noon
With her cherubic quantity ---
An April but begun ---

The Robin is the One
That speechless from her Nest
Submit that Home --- and Certainty
And Sanctity, are best

39. How Still the Bells in Steeples Stand

How still the Bells in Steeples stand
Till swollen with the Sky
They leap upon their silver Feet
In frantic Melody!

40. A Slash of Blue

A slash of Blue --
A sweep of Gray --
Some scarlet patches on the way,
Compose an Evening Sky --
A little purple -- slipped between --
Some Ruby Trousers hurried on --
A Wave of Gold --
A Bank of Day --
This just makes out the Morning Sky.

41. The Saddest Noise, the Sweetest Noise

The saddest noise, the sweetest noise,
     The maddest noise that grows, --
The birds, they make it in the spring,
     At night's delicious close.

Between the March and April line --
     That magical frontier
Beyond which summer hesitates,
     Almost too heavenly near.

It makes us think of all the dead
     That sauntered with us here,
By separation's sorcery
     Made cruelly more dear.

It makes us think of what we had,
     And what we now deplore.
We almost wish those siren throats
     Would go and sing no more.

An ear can break a human heart
     As quickly as a spear,
We wish the ear had not a heart
     So dangerously near.

42. 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

43. Morning

Will there really be a "Morning"?
Is there such a thing as "Day"?
Could I see it from the mountains
If I were as tall as they?

Has it feet like Water lilies?
Has it feathers like a Bird?
Is it brought from famous countries
Of which I have never heard?

Oh some Scholar! Oh some Sailor!
Oh some Wise Men from the skies!
Please to tell a little Pilgrim
Where the place called "Morning" lies!

44. The Hummingbird

A Route of Evanescence
With a revolving Wheel ---
A Resonance of Emerald ---
A Rush of Cochineal ---
And every Blossom on the Bush
Adjusts its tumbled Head ---
The mail from Tunis, probably,
An easy Morning's Ride ---

45. The Snake

A narrow Fellow in the Grass
Occasionally rides ---
You may have met Him --- did you not
His notice sudden is ---

The Grass divides as with a Comb ---
A spotted shaft is seen ---
And then it closes at your feet
And opens further on ---

He likes a Boggy Acre
A Floor too cool for Corn ---
Yet when a Boy, and Barefoot ---
I more than once at Noon

Have passed, I thought, a Whip lash
Unbraiding in the Sun
When stooping to secure it
It wrinkled and was gone ---

Several of Nature's People
I know, and they know me ---
I feel for them a transport
Of cordiality ---

But never met this Fellow,
Attended, or alone
Without a tighter breathing
And Zero at the Bone ---

46. Indian Summer

These are the days when Birds come back ---
A very few --- a Bird or two ---
To take a backward look.

These are the days when skies resume
The old --- old sophistries of June ---
A blue and gold mistake.

Oh fraud that cannot cheat the Bee ---
Almost thy plausibility
Induces my belief.

Till ranks of seeds their witness bear ---
And softly thro' the altered air
Hurries a timid leaf.

Oh Sacrament of summer days,
Oh Last Communion in the Haze ---
Permit a child to join.

Thy sacred emblems to partake ---
They consecrated bread to take
And thine immortal wine!

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