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The Poems of Emily Dickinson Kindle Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 213 customer reviews

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Length: 770 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Emily Dickinson proved that brevity can be beautiful. Only now is her complete oeuvre--all 1,775 poems--available in its original form, uncorrupted by editorial revision, in one volume. Thomas H. Johnson, a longtime Dickinson scholar, arranged the poems in chronological order as far as could be ascertained (the dates for more than 100 are unknown). This organization allows a wide-angle view of Dickinson's poetic development, from the sometimes-clunky rhyme schemes of her juvenilia, including valentines she wrote in the early 1850s, to the gloomy, hell-obsessed writings from her last years. Quite a difference from requisite Dickinson entries in literary anthologies: "There's a certain Slant of light," "Wild Nights--Wild Nights!" and "I taste a liquor never brewed."

The book was compiled from Thomas H. Johnson's hard-to-find variorum from 1955. While some explanatory notes would have been helpful, it's a prodigious collection, showcasing Dickinson's intractable obsession with nature, including death. Poem 1732, which alludes to the deaths of her father and a onetime suitor, illustrates her talent:

My life closed twice before its close;
It yet remains to see
If Immortality unveil
A third event to me,

So huge, so hopeless to conceive
As these that twice befell.
Parting is all we know of heaven,
And all we need of hell.

The musicality of her punctuation and the outright elegance of her style--akin to Christina Rossetti's hymns, although not nearly so religious--rescue the poems from their occasional abstruseness. The Complete Poems is especially refreshing because Dickinson didn't write for publication; only 11 of her verses appeared in magazines during her lifetime, and she had long-resigned herself to anonymity, or a "Barefoot-Rank," as she phrased it. This is the perfect volume for readers wishing to explore the works of one of America's first poets.

From Library Journal

Complete is the keyword here as this is the only edition currently available that contains all of Dickinson's poems. The works were originally gathered by editor Johnson and published in a three-volume set in 1955. Essential for academic and public libraries.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 479 KB
  • Print Length: 770 pages
  • Publisher: Start Publishing LLC (December 28, 2012)
  • Publication Date: February 8, 2013
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00AWJMV9W
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #343,038 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
So, here's the deal, boys and girls. There are two versions of the reading edition of Emily Dickinson's poems that are usable. And by usable, I mean that the texts (note the work "texts") are what Emily Dickinson wanted the texts to be. The first version is, as I read the description of the volume in question, is the Thomas H. Johnson text. Now, friends, (excuse me if I seem patronizing, but as a Dickinson scholar, long of tooth, and weary of stupidity, I have my prejudices), Johnson's text has been a fully acceptable and competent version since it was published as the authoritative Dickinson in 1955 (Belknap Press of Harvard University Press issued the variorum, three volume version of all the authoritative poems in the same year.) This is cool. The newest version of Emily Dickinson poems was edited by R.W. Franklin, and the readers' edition was published in 1999. There is also a new variorum edition published by Belknap Press of Harvard and edited by Franklin. So. I am boring you with all of this detail to tell you that the Johnson texts are good texts. If you are serious about Dickinson--meaning if you actually care about what she wrote on the page--the Johnson and the Franklin will give accurate texts. F.W. Franklin has been working on details where Johnson lacked insight since the '60's. He knows whereof he speaks, and he has done his utmost to reassemble Ms. Dickinson's original manuscripts in their proper order. Previous versions of the poems--those before Johnson and Franklin--regularized rhyme and otherwise abrogated the accuracy of the poems. They were cleaned up according to late 19th century standards, and the texts--despite editorial comments to the contrary--are corrupt. That means that they are inaccurate.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
Nearly everyone who's had a brush with American lit knows the story of Emily Dickinson - her poetry unpublished in her lifetime, and then even after her death, her verses seeing the light of day only after having been "improved" on by an editor who found her rhymes imperfect and her meter "spasmodic." He even went so far as to make her metaphors "sensible." The fact is, Thomas Wentworth Higginson, to whom Dickinson had sent her poems, was a representative of the poetic establishment, and as with all artistic establishments then and now, was too rigid in his thinking and too impoverished in his imagination to comprehend a new voice of genius. As Editor Thomas H. Johnson writes in his terse but very instructive Introduction, "He was trying to measure a cube by the rules of plane geometry."

Of course other women of literature suffered something similar during the nineteenth century. What I wonder is, who is being misread, ignored or denied today?

Anyway, suffice it to say that this IS the definitive one-volume collection of the poetry of Emily Dickinson. It includes all the 1,775 poems that she wrote in her lifetime, and they are presented here just as she wrote them with only some minor corrections of obvious misspellings or misplaced apostrophes. Johnson has retained the sometimes "capricious" capitalization, and preserved the famous dashes.

There is a subject index, which I found useful, and an index of first lines, which is invaluable.

Dickinson can be playful...

I'm Nobody! Who are you?
Are you - Nobody - too?
Then there's a pair of us!
Don't tell! they'd advertise - you know!

...she can be sarcastic...
Read more ›
3 Comments 212 of 222 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The first review is correct that the table of contents and divisions help greatly in navigating this edition. I have a huge issue, though, with the formatting.

Poetry flows - or, should. A poem comprises both linguistic content and graphic display. Its presentation on the page is a part of the poem. The display of poems in this edition is flawed in a ways that can be jarring and distracting: Although many of the poems are short, short enough to fit on a page, they are not arranged that way. A poem of just a few lines will frequently begin on a page and be continued on the following page, often with the division occurring in the middle of a stanza. Then, below it, the next poem will begin and be chopped up in the same fashion.

I am disappointed to find yet another Kindle book that shows disregard for quality as evidenced in negligent formatting. ok, it's cheap, but reinforces what should be a constant 'Kindle rule': always view the sample before buying anything.
3 Comments 77 of 81 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
I have 1000 words to tell what Dickinson means to me, an impossible task I gladly take up. I'd like to respond to others on this page. I once called Dickinson the "patron saint of lonely people everywhere," so I can identify with what one person said about teenage shut-ins. And I don't blame the person who snubbed her for not leaving a name--I'd be embarrassed to as well. Emily egotistical? The poet who wrote, "I'm nobody"? Wow. I love Dickinson's work so much because her vision of life is so fully her own, so at odds with the views of those around her. Can you imagine knowing you are the most brilliant lyric poet of your time (Whitman was more an epic or narrative poet), and knowing no one understood you? It's like trying to communicate in a foreign language that only you know. In fact, that is exactly what she did--she explodes the syntax, vocabulary, and syllabication of English and transforms it into her own private means of communication. She demands that we meet her on her ground. True, reading her work is not "fun"--there's too much pain and burning beauty in it to be an easy ride. She is not for everyone--only for those who see that life's disappointments both destroy and liberate us at the same time: comparing human hurts to trees destroyed by nature's forces, she says (in poem 314), "We--who have the Souls-- / Die oftener--Not so vitally--." Those may be the finest lines any poet ever wrote in English.
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