I started Early – Took my Dog –And visited the Sea –The Mermaids in the BasementCame out to look at me –And Frigates – in the Upper FloorExtended Hempen Hands –Presuming Me to be a Mouse –Aground – opon the Sands –But no Man moved Me – till the TideWent past my simple Shoe –And past my Apron – and my BeltAnd past my Boddice – too –And made as He would eat me up –As wholly as a DewOpon a Dandelion's Sleeve –And then – I started – too –And He – He followed – close behind –I felt His Silver HeelOpon my Ancle – Then My ShoesWould overflow with Pearl –Until We met the Solid Town –No One He seemed to know –And bowing – with a Mighty look –At me – The Sea withdrew –
Known as “The Myth of Amherst” for her withdrawal from society while still a young woman, Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) had an inner life that was deeply emotional and intense. She knew rapture and despair, pondered the wonder of God and the meaning of death. She broke tradition and was criticized for her seminal experiments with unorthodox phrasing, rhyme and broken meter, within concise verse forms, thus becoming an innovator and forerunner of modern poets.
"Between them, our great visionary poets of the American nineteenth century, Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman, have come to represent the extreme, idiosyncratic poles of the American psyche....
"Dickinson never shied away from the great subjects of human suffering, loss, death, even madness, but her perspective was intensely private; like Rainer Maria Rilke and Gerard Manley Hopkins, she is the great poet of inwardness, of the indefinable region of the soul in which we are, in a sense, all alone."
—Joyce Carol Oates