Emily Dickinson Quotes
Use these quotes as part of your analysis of Emily Dickinson poetry.
Poem: “A narrow fellow in the grass”
Quote: A NARROW fellow in the grass / Occasionally rides; / You may have met him,—did you not? / His notice sudden is (4).
Analysis: Dickinson excels at description. Here we have a snake, a “NARROW fellow in the grass” (1). Note the word snake does not exist in a poem that describes a snake, yet a better description of a snake may not exist. More importantly, the brilliant description contains two adjectives: narrow in line one and sudden in line four, whose odd structure thought forces. Dickinson, as do all great writers, understands that adjectives should be used sparingly, even with description.
Poem: “Because I could not stop for Death”
Quote: BECAUSE I could not stop for Death, / He kindly stopped for me; / The carriage held but just ourselves / And Immortality (1-4).
Analysis: A common theme in Dickinson’s poetry is death. She personifies death and immortality in the opening stanza, a rather kind characterization. The guest in death’s carriage is also pleasant.
Poem: “Hope is the thing with feathers”
Quote: HOPE is the thing with feathers / That perches in the soul, / And sings the tune without the words, / And never stops at all (1-4).
Analysis: The opening stanza presents a metaphor, comparing hope to the bird “that perches in the soul and sings” (2-3) without stopping. Dickinson loves birds! Comparing hope to something that occurs in nature reflects Dickinson’s reverence for nature. The question that needs answered is why “the” bird and not “a” bird. I’ll let you tackle that one on your own.
Poem: “I felt a funeral in my brain”
Quote: And then I heard them lift a box, / And creak across my soul / With those same boots of lead, again. / Then space began to toll (9-12).
Analysis: “I felt a funeral in my brain” reflects Dickison’s belief that all souls are connected, and that when one dies or suffers, a part of everyone dies or suffers. The box in line 9 refers to a coffin, a coffin whose creak reverberates throughout humanity.
Use these Emily Dickinson quotes as part of your analysis of Emily Dickinson poetry.
Poem: “Much madness is divinest sense”
Quote: Assent, and you are sane; / Demur,—you ’re straightway dangerous, / And handled with a chain (6-8).
Analysis: Dickinson remained unknown to her contemporaries, her work being published posthumously. Those who knew her believed her crazy, as do many scholars who did not know her. They had good reason. Dickinson lived a reclusive life, rarely leaving her home, refusing love, suffering a broken heart after the local minister rejected her suits. This poem may be in response to those who considered her mad, commenting that those who “assent” or conform are considered sane, regardless of rightness or wrongness; those who choose to live differently, as she did, and “demur” are considered insane.
Poem: “She sweeps with many-coloured brooms”
Quote: SHE sweeps with many-colored brooms, / And leaves the shreds behind; / Oh, housewife in the evening west, / Come back, and dust the pond! (1-4).
Analysis: Dickinson uses personification to describe the sunset. She once again shows her uncanny ability for description, using adjectives sparingly and not specifically mentioning the thing being described.
Find the complete online library of Emily Dickinson poems, click here.
This post is part of the series: Emily Dickinson Study Guide
When I was in high school, my English teacher made us read Emily Dickinson. I loathed it. I’m older now and enjoy Emily Dickinson’s poetry. I, however, don’t want you to suffer as I did, so I made this Emily Dickinson study guide.