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The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson Paperback – January 30, 1976
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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.
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Poem titles needed to be covered with correction tape.
I taught elementary school for 30 years and attempted to help the children I learned from and spent my days with, aware of poetry. I was lucky to discovered the PBS series "Voices and Visions" (viewable at [...]) which introduced me to other poets. Some of these included William Carlos Williams, Wallace Stevens, Elizabeth Bishop, and happily and fortuitously Emily Dickinson. I fell in love with her poetry. But teaching did not allow me the time to dive headlong into the 1775 poems contained in this Wonderful edition. I had purchased a couple of used "selected works" editions but little did I know that when I purchase this editon at Amazon.com, what was about to happen to me. Once I retired I was able to give myself over to her canon and my life changed (seriously).
Retired- I had the time. I started reading the poems. Not an easy task. I read a biography. Then I moved on to critiques and analyses of her work, more biographies, and of course, there was always the poetry. But how do you read 1775 poems?? The biographies I read presented a fascinating and a remarkable Woman. Was I capable of understanding what she and her writings were about?? Having read Blake for so long developed, in me, a patience to continue.
I've read well over 30 books about Ms. Emily and her work. I've continued to read, from this paperback edition, over these many, many years. I carried it everywhere. Because it was a paperback I thought it would fall apart. (I am not kind to the books with which I live.) But that edition I bought years ago is still, amazingly enough, in great shape with highlights on each and every poem. I cannot believe it is still functional, but it is and it is the most valuable book I have ever owned. (Sorry William.) This is a book of Great Value. I recently came across a hardbound copy of this edition at used bookstore. But nothing will ever replace my original copy.
I have read all 1775+ poems "in context." That was important to me. I did not just want to be able to say, "I've read all of ED's poems." I wanted to read them with a sense of what Emily was saying. That's not an easy task. I do not want to deluded myself into thinking I have an understanding about Emily Dickinson. After reading the other 30 or so books, I've been helped to understand some of her work. But her work IS inexhaustible.
I have fallen in Love with Emily Dickinson, as have many. (See Billy Collins' "Undressing Emily Dickinson."). I want to say that the time I've spent reading her work has been worth every second. This, (this paperback edition), has seen me through this journey and for that I am most grateful!!!.
I Love Emily Dickinson.
Be aware! Once you've read her poems you'll HAVE to read her letters!