I picked up [amazon 0674676246 inline] at her home in Amherst, Massachusetts a couple of years back.
There is much of Emily that I like very much. I like the little visuals - "Snow flakes. I counted till they danced so Their slippers leaped the town..." That alone is worth discovering 45 poems in.
But I had never before realized that Emily Dickinson was first and foremost a poet of death, of death experienced as those in all the centuries before our last experienced it. Of death experienced on a first name basis, at first hand, in one's own home or the homes of friends and family. Of the expected deaths not only of mothers, fathers, grandparents, but of sisters, brothers, sons, and daughters. Of the chronic reminders that death exists right around the corner of every life.
This volume is laid out in sequence, from first poems to last. And in the first one we find, after an opening line that claims "the Earth was made for lovers," the reminder that "The worm doth woo the mortal, death claims a living bride, night unto day is married, morn unto eventide..."
And these - "Mortality is fatal." "And in her Eye the Violets lie Mouldered this many May." "Death but our rapt attention To Immortality." "Taken from men this morning, Carried by men today...One little maid from playmates..." "Tis sweet to know that stocks will stand when we with Daisies lie..." "I often passed the Village When going home from school - and wondered what they did there - and why it was so still." And one of the most recent talks of the "simple hearted neighbors" who "Chat of the Early dead," while "We - prone to periphrasis, Remark that Birds have fled."
There are over 1700 poems in this volume. I have gone through 63 of them so far. And I will return to her soon. Next month - Evangeline. It's been years.