i just finished this collection of poems by revered american poet emily dickinson. i like her poetry more than the poems of walt whitman, but less than the poetry of robinson jeffers. i do enjoy the extremely formal nature of her poems, as opposed to the often wishy-washy free-verse of mr. whitman. and, even though her poetry is highly formal, there are interesting rhythms that sometimes border on awkwardness but mostly stay within the boundaries of a certain lyrical flow. here is true formal poetic innovation, the likes of which e.e. cummings can only dream (no disrespect, for real).
her poems convey a deep understanding of religious themes and a philosophic sensibility i would liken to “naturalism.” not “naturalism” in some vague, trendy, or preachy sense (e.g. thoreau, emerson, don mckay, etc.): NATURAL in the sense of a keen insight into human nature and acute observations of the natural world. i especially enjoy her descriptions of bees and lightning, which recur in several poems. near the end of the collection the event / idea of death takes prominence; both her own death and the death of loved ones provide heart-breaking beauty but also firm resolution that even dylan thomas would be proud of. her death poems are not about grief or mourning but about being open to and accepting of the eventual possibility of death.
her poems are not obscure, though there are numerous references to religion; they are references that pretty much anyone can understand. for the most part, these poems do not always say all that much, but they do say something with precision, clarity, and a wittgenstenian kind of lucidity: “anything that can be thought can be said. anything that can be said, can be said clearly.”
here are the poems i found particularly good. please enjoy responsibly!