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The Best of Emily Dickinson

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Emily Dickinson was one of America’s most prolific poets. With an air of mystery surrounding her life, she is known to have spent most part of her life as a social recluse, with her whereabouts unknown. Even in her lifetime, she was known in Amherst as “the Myth”. In her poems- she wrote nearly 1,800, most only published posthumously, focusing on the recurring themes of death and immortality and written with eccentric usage of punctuation and grammar.

Here is a collection of some of her best poems-

  1. ‘I’m Nobody! Who are you?’ (1861)
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Celebrating the notion of being a ‘nobody’ rather than being a ‘somebody’, Dickinson presents a defence of the solitary lifestyle that she favoured; perfectly adept at self-acceptance, she implies that to be a ‘Nobody’ is an unfathomable luxury.

2. ‘I heard a Fly buzz- when I died’ (1862)

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By describing a metaphorical death, she delves deeper and explores the themes of death and mortality, which have been some of the prevalent and frequently used themes in her poetry.

3. ‘Hope is the thing with feathers’ (1861)

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This poem celebrates the power of hope as physical and tangible, which is capable of driving away the despair from our everyday life. Concretizing the abstract notions is a remarkable feature of Dickinson’s poetry.

4. ‘I died for Beauty but was scarce’ (1862)

This poem focuses on the key aspects of the transient nature and inevitability of death. She paints a grotesque picture where the feelings, emotions and human identity are obliterated by death and the ravages of time.

5. ‘A narrow Fellow in the Grass’ (1865)

Dickinson’s use of metaphors and alliteration allowing the reader to guess the ‘narrow fellow’ in the poem is a snake, without once naming her subject, is worthy of admiration. She reckons the story of a man, who reminisces his childhood encounter with a snake.

6. ‘Success is counted sweetest’ (1859)

Built upon a paradox of success and defeat, Dickinson highlights how deprivation leads to greater appreciation and feeling of gratitude.

7. ‘Tell the truth but tell it slant’ (1868)

Replete with visual imagery, this poem focuses on the power of truth and the need for its slow assimilation and gradual acceptance.

8. ‘After great pain, a formal greeting comes’ (1862)

This poem describes pain and misery as the inevitable parts of human existence by drawing links between the emotional and the psychological states.

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