Emily Dickinson
American Poet

By Jessica Moscicki

Emily Dickinson was an American Poet who did not publish a single poem in her own lifetime.  She dedicated herself to a secret assignment – a mission of writing a “letter to the world” that would express the truth of many things, including nature, love, life, and death.  These “letters” became her poems.

Emily was a woman was “not beautiful, but had great beauties” and old classmate once said.  Her eyes were auburn along with matching auburn hair.  Emily was born into this world on December 10, 1830 in Amherst, Massachusetts.  Her family consisted of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Squire Dickinson, along with two siblings; a brother, Austin and a sister Lavinia.  As a lawyer, her father was well-known in their community.  He was also treasurer of Amherst College and a member of Legislature and of Congress. Her mother was kind and gentle and appeared to live in her husband’s shadow.

Emily attended Amherst Academy for two years and one year at the Mount Holyoke Female Seminary.  She began seriously writing in her 20’s.  When exactly cannot be determined due to her earlier poems being destroyed. Around 1858 she started to copy her poems in ink.  Her writing skills lead her to create about fifty poems that year.  Although she was skilled at creative writing, she guarded her talent from her family.  She was encouraged to write by Benjamin F. Newton, a law student at her father’s office.

In 1862 Emily wrote a total of three hundred and fifty six poems, but after 1862 she averaged about 20 poems a year.  Year by year her indifference with the outer world grew more pronounced.  As her life went on she became obsessed with death and only dressed in white.  Some say she became obsessed with God.

Emily Dickinson dids in 1886.  Not until her death were all her poems discovered.  None of her poems were ever published in her lifetime.  Her sister, Lavinia had found a locked box filled with poems after her death and she worked hard to have them published and finally had success in 1891.  In 1950, Harvard University bought all available manuscripts and publishing rights.  Harvard still has all the rights to Emily’s poems.

Long before her death Emily became an Amherst legend and even today Emily Dickinson still stands today in the front rank of American poets.  She died on May 15, 1886.  Her last written letter was on May 14, 1886.  She had wrote “letters to the world” until her dying day.

“Who has not found heaven below
Will fail of it above.
God’s residence is next to mine,
His furniture is love.”   ~ Emily Dickinson