Emily Dickinson's Collected Poems SummaryEmily Dickinson wrote almost 1800 poems during her life. Her poetry was stunningly original, ignoring or working against many of the traditions and conventions of the time. Her poems are almost all short, using the traditional hymnal stanza of quatrains of lines alternating between four and three beats long, rhymed abab.
Dickinson’s poems use largely simple language, many off-rhymes, and unconventional punctuation to deal with a small set of themes that she returned to again and again. Death, grief, passion, faith, truth, and fame and success are the most prominent of these themes. Each time she revisits one of these threads, she comes at it differently, never allowing her interpretation of truth to become entrenched or oversimplified.
About Emily Dickinson's Collected Poems
Emily Dickinson wrote close to 1800 poems in her lifetime. Her poems are often extremely short, waste no words, and subvert the traditional forms of the day. She is also fond of the dash as a tool to signify a pause or provide emphasis. Her poems, though short, are usually complex in theme, form, and execution, and are often impossible to paraphrase. She deals with themes of death, faith, nature, love, as well as the difficulty of finding truth, fame, and grief, throughout this massive collection.
Dickinson published only seven poems in her lifetime, and these were all done anonymously, and often were heavily edited. When it became clear she would not ever be published widely, she bound her poems into her own collections. These her sister Lavinia found upon her death, and, recognizing their brilliance, she turned to her brother Austin’s mistress, Mabel Loomis Todd, who was well-connected, for help publishing them.
Although they faced rejection at first, a first volume of Dickinson’s poems was published in 1890, and although some critics responded unfavorably to her subversion of the period’s strict conventions of rhyme and