In this article, we share with you some of the best, loveliest and most inspiring Emily Dickinson quotes on life, hope, inspiration, love, death, poetry, and other topics.
Emily Dickinson was born on December 10, 1830 in Amherst, Massachusetts, U.S. Even though she and her works were not very much known during her lifetime, she is considered a very important and distinguished figure in American poetry.
Dickinson used to live most of her life in isolation and was considered by locals to be an eccentric. As time passed, she started wearing white clothes and became reluctance to greet guests and later to even leave her bedroom.
Dickinson never married and had few close friends if any. She has written almost 1,800 poems, yet during her lifetime, only 10 of her poems were published, explaining why she wasn’t very much known that time. Her poems were considered to be unique for the era, as they used to contain short lines, almost no titles, and there was a use of slant rhyme and unconventional capitalization and punctuation.
Many of Dickinson’s poems deal with themes and subjects of immortality and death, but she also explored other subjects like society, spirituality, nature, and aesthetics.
Dickinson died on May 15, 1886 at the age of 55. It was only after her death, that her younger sister found her many poems which were later published and became public.
Emily Dickinson Quotes on Life, Hope and Inspiration
Life is a spell so exquisite that everything conspires to break it.
Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops at all.
Forever is composed of nows.
The past is not a package one can lay away.
Life is but Life! And Death, but Death! Bliss is but Bliss, and Breath but Breath!
Our lives are Swiss, so still, so cool.
That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet.
I dwell in possibility.
I believe in possibility.
To be alive – is Power.
Not knowing when the dawn will come I open every door.
I don’t profess to be profound, but I do lay claim to common sense.
I like a look of agony, because I know it’s true.
This world is just a little place, just the red in the sky, before the sun rises, so let us keep fast hold of hands, that when the birds begin, none of us be missing.
To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else.
Bring me the sunset in a cup.
Beauty is not caused. It is.
Behavior is what a man does, not what he thinks, feels, or believes.
Pardon My Sanity in A World Insane.
Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm That could abash the little bird That kept so many warm.
I’ve heard it in the chilliest land and on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity, it asked a crumb of me.
We turn not older with years but newer every day.
Saying nothing sometimes says the most.
The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience.
We never know how high we are till we are called to rise. Then if we are true to form our statures touch the skies.
Truth is so rare, it is delightful to tell it.
Old age comes on suddenly, and not gradually as is thought.
To hope means to be ready at every moment for that which is not yet born, and yet not become desperate if there is no birth in our lifetime.
Dwell in possibility. Find ecstasy in life; the mere sense of living is joy enough.
Finite to fail, but infinite to venture.
Hold dear to your parents for it is a scary and confusing world without them.
Parting is all we know of heaven, and all we need of hell.
I do not like the man who squanders life for fame; give me the man who living makes a name.
Emily Dickinson Quotes on Love
Love is anterior to life, posterior to death, initial of creation, and the exponent of breath.
Unable are the loved to die, for love is immortality.
Till it has loved, no man or woman can become itself.
The heart wants what it wants — or else it does not care.
I argue thee that love is life. And life hath immortality.
That Love is all there is, is all we know of Love.
Since I have no sweet flower to send you, I enclose my heart; a little one, sunburnt, half broken sometimes, yet close as the spaniel, to it’s friends.
If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain.
Heart, we will forget him, You and I, tonight!
You must forget the warmth he gave, I will forget the light.
Till I loved I never lived.
Write me of hope and love, and hearts that endured.
We outgrow love like other things and put it in a drawer, till it an antique fashion shows like costumes grandsires wore.
My love for those I love — not many — not very many, but don’t I love them so?
That love is all there is, is all we know of love.
Till it has loved, no man or woman can become itself.
Love is its own rescue, for we, at our supremest, are but its trembling emblems.
Your absence insanes me so, I do not feel so peaceful, when you are gone from me.
I think of love, and you, and my heart grows full and warm, and my breath stands still.
I would have drowned twice to save you sinking, dear.
To wait an hour is long if love be just beyond. To wait eternity is short, if love reward the end.
Love can do all but raise the Dead
I doubt if even that
From such a giant were withheld Were flesh equivalent
But love is tired and must sleep,
And hungry and must graze
And so abets the shining Fleet
Till it is out of gaze.
Who loves you most, and loves you best, and thinks of you when others rest? ‘Tis Emilie.
Emily Dickinson Quotes on Death
Afraid? Of whom am I afraid? Not death. For who is he?
Dying is a wild night and a new road.
We never know we go when we are going. We jest and shut the Door. Fate-following-behind us bolts it, and we accost no more.
Because I could not stop for death, He kindly stopped for me; The carriage held but just ourselves and immortality.
Death is a supple suitor, that wins at last. It is a stealthy wooing; conducted first by pallid innuendos and dim approach, but brave at last with bugles.
Beauty crowds me till I die, beauty, mercy have on me! But if I expire today, let it be in sight of thee.
That short, potential stir that each can make but once, that bustle so illustrious tis almost consequence, is the eclat of death.
My life closed twice before its close.
The distance that the dead have gone does not at first appear. Their coming back seems possible, for many an ardent year.
You’ll find it when you try to die. The Easier to let go, for recollecting such as went, you could not spare. You know.
A death-blow is a life-blow to some who, till they died, did not alive become. Who, had they lived, had died, but when they died, vitality begun.
I died for beauty, but was scarce
Adjusted in the tomb when one who died for truth
was lain in an adjoining room.
She died, this was the way she died
And when her breath was done, took up her simple wardrobe and started for the sun.
Her little figure at the gate the angels must have spied
Since I could never find her upon the mortal side.
I wonder if it hurts to live, and if they have to try, and whether, could they choose between, they would not rather die.
There is a pain so utter
It swallows substance up
Then covers the abyss with trance
So Memory can step around, across, opon it
As one within a swoon
Goes safely where an open eye
Would drop him
Bone by Bone.
Death is a Dialogue between the Spirit and the Dust.
“Dissolve” says death, the spirit “Sir I have another Trust”
Death doubts it, argues from the ground
The Spirit turns away, just laying off for evidence, an overcoat of clay.
Emily Dickinson Quotes on Nature
Bring me the sunset in a cup.
How strange that nature does not knock, and yet does not intrude!
Nature is a haunted house, but art is a house that tries to be haunted.
One note from one bird is better than a million words…
Nature is our eldest mother. She will do no harm.
Nature is what we know, yet have not art to say. So impotent our wisdom is, to her simplicity.
Inebriate of air, am I
And Debauchee of dew
Reeling thro endless summer days
From inns of molten blue
You ask of my companions. Hills, sir, and the sundown, and a dog as large as myself.
There is another sky,
Ever serene and fair,
And there is another sunshine,
Though it be darkness there;
Never mind faded forests, Austin,
Never mind silent fields
Here is a little forest,
Whose leaf is ever green;
Here is a brighter garden,
Where not a frost has been;
In its unfading flowers
I hear the bright bee hum:
Prithee, my brother,
Into my garden come!
A little road not made of man,
Enabled of the eye,
Accessible to thill of bee,
Or cart of butterfly.
If town it have, beyond itself,
’T is that I cannot say;
I only sigh, no vehicle
Bears me along that way.
Who robbed the woods,
The trusting woods?
The unsuspecting trees
Brought out their burrs and mosses
His fantasy to please.
He scanned their trinkets, curious,
He grasped, he bore away.
What will the solemn hemlock,
What will the fir-tree say?
Water is taught by thirst;
Land, by the oceans passed;
Transport, by throe;
Peace, by its battles told;
Love, by memorial mould;
Birds, by the snow.
To my quick ear the leaves conferred;
The bushes they were bells;
I could not find a privacy
From Nature’s sentinels.
In cave if I presumed to hide,
The walls began to tell;
Creation seemed a mighty crack
To make me visible.
The lovely flowers embarrass me. They make me regret I am not a bee…
Emily Dickinson Quotes on Friendship
My friends are my estate.
My only sketch, profile, of Heaven is a large blue sky, and larger than the biggest I have seen in June – and in it are my friends – every one of them.
A letter always seemed to me like immortality because it is the mind alone without corporeal friend.
Elysium is as far as to the very nearest room, if in that room a friend await, felicity of doom.
Till the first friend dies, we think our ecstasy impersonal, but then discover that he was the cup from which we drank it, itself as yet unknown.
I need you more and more, and the great world grows wider, and dear ones fewer and fewer, every day that you stay away.
I only know that when you shall come back again, the Earth will seem more beautiful, and bigger than it does now, and the blue sky from the window will be all dotted with gold — though it may not be evening, or time for the stars to come.
Emily Dickenson Quotes on Poetry and Writing
I know nothing in the world that has as much power as a word. Sometimes I write one, and I look at it, until it begins to shine.
A word is dead when it is said, some say. I say it just begins to live that day.
Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion. It is not the expression of personality but an escape from personality. But, of course, only those who have personality and emotion know what it means to want to escape from these.
The dearest ones of time, the strongest friends of the soul – BOOKS.
But a book is only the heart’s portrait- every page a pulse.
If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry.
Write me of hope and love, and hearts that endured.
There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away
Nor any coursers like a page
Of prancing poetry
This traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of toll
How frugal is the chariot
That bears a human soul.
He ate and drank the precious words,
His spirit grew robust;
He knew no more that he was poor,
Nor that his frame was dust.
He danced along the dingy days,
And this bequest of wings
Was but a book. What liberty
A loosened spirit brings!
If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can ever warm me, I know that is poetry.
We are the only poets, and everyone else is prose.
She dealt her pretty words like Blades —
How glittering they shone —
And every One unbared a Nerve
Or wantoned with a Bone —
She never deemed — she hurt —
That — is not Steel’s Affair —
A vulgar grimace in the Flesh —
How ill the Creatures bear —
To Ache is human — not polite —
The Film upon the eye
Mortality’s old Custom —
Just locking up — to Die.
The poet lights the light and fades away. But the light goes on and on.
To see the summer sky is poetry, though never in a book it lie. True poems flee…
The Poets light but lamps themselves go out.
Interesting Facts about Emily Dickinson
After enjoying some of her best and famous quotes on various subjects, here are some interesting facts about Emily Dickinson that may surprise you.
- Emily Dickinson Was Quite a Rebel – Dickinson didn’t follow punctuation in her writings and used to rebel matters of social propriety and religion. Until the age of 30, Dickinson used to go to church on a regular basis, however, saw herself as a Pagan and preferred to write about the merits of science and not religion.
- Emily Dickinson Had Problems with Her Vision – Dickinson began having problems with her eyes in 1863 when she was 33 years old. Her eyes hurt when she tried to write or read, and if that’s not enough, bright light also hurt her eyes. Historians claim that Dickinson suffered from iritis, which is an inflammation of the eye. During the time that she was in treatment, Dickinson had to eschew reading, write only with a pencil and stay in a room with dim light. It was around 1865, two years later, that her symptoms went away.
- Emily Dickinson Never Published Under Her Own Name – Wentworth Higginson was a close friend and mentor of Dickinson. He loved her work and praised it a lot, however, discouraged her from publishing it, because he thought that the general public wouldn’t be able to understand her poems and recognize her genius. 10 of Dickinson’s poems and one letter have been published between 1850 and 1878. They were published in journals and newspapers, but they weren’t attributed to her by name, since Dickinson refused to give permission to publish any of her works. The first volume of her poems and works was published only in 1890, four years after she died.
- Emily Dickinson Wearing Only White May be Just a Myth – Before Dickinson died, she used to wear white clothes only and also told her family members that she wanted to be dressed in a white robe and be buried in a white coffin. However, the idea or notion that she used to wear only white all the time may be just a myth, as there are photos of her wearing dark clothes as well.
- She Was Very Close to Her Family Members – Dickinson lived most of her adult life in isolation from the outside world, but she was close to her sister and brother and all were in good relationship with one another. Emily’s sister lived with her at the home of the Dickinson family, while her brother (Austin) along with his wife and their three children lived next door to Emily. She and her brothers’ wife (Susan) were close friends and used to exchange letter on a regular basis.
- Emily Dickinson May Have Suffered from Anxiety – It is unknown why Dickinson chose to isolate herself from the world during her young adult life. Theories suggest that Dickinson may have suffered from epilepsy, severe anxiety or simply wanted to concentrate on writing and poetry.
- The Man or Person She Loved Remains a Mystery – Although Dickinson never married, she did experience love in her life. In the three “Master Letters” (1858-1862), Dickinson mentions a “Master,” which is a mystery man she was greatly in-love with. Some scholars believe that this mystery man may have been one of the following: her mentor, an Amherst student, a reverend, a newspaper editor, God, or maybe a fictional character or muse. During her life, Dickinson have had a relationship with Judge Otis Lord who was a friend of her father and a widow at the time. He did propose to Dickinson in 1883, but she did not answer his proposal and he died a year later in 1884.
- The Man Who Edited and Published Her Work Was Her Brother’s Mistress – In 1883, Emily’s brother had an affair with Mabel Loomis Todd who was a writer. Mabel and Emily exchanged letters, but never met each other in person. After Emily died, her sister asked Mabel to help her arrange her works and poems and publish them. Mabel along with Higginson edited and later published Emily’s poems.
- “Called Back” Was Added on Her Tombstone by Her Niece – Emily Dickinson died at her home from kidney disease or high blood pressure in 1886. Her first tombstone displayed only three letters, E.E.D, which stands for Emily Elizabeth Dickinson, her initials. Later on, her niece decided to place a new headstone and on it she engraved Emily’s name, dates of her birth and death, and also the words “Called Back”, which is a reference to Hugh Conway’s novel from 1880 which goes by the same name. The reason for it was because Emily Dickinson enjoyed reading this novel. Before she died, Emily Dickinson wrote a letter to her cousins and in it she wrote only the words “Called Back.”
- Emily Dickinson Had a Green Thumb – During her life, Emily Dickinson was a gardener and loved it. She used to grow vegetables, flowers and cared for cherry, apple, and pear trees on the property of her family. She also oversaw the greenhouse of the family which contained gardenias, ferns, jasmine and carnations.
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