“The eagerness with which the first volume of Emily Dickinson’s poems has been read shows very clearly that all our alleged modern artificiality does not prevent a prompt appreciation of the qualities of directness and simplicity in approaching the greatest themes,—life and love and death. That “irresistible needle-touch,” as one of her best critics has called it, piercing at once the very core of a thought, has found a response as wide and sympathetic as it has been unexpected even to those who knew best her compelling power. This second volume, while open to the same criticism as to form with its predecessor, shows also the same shining beauties.” (Summary by Mabel Loomis Todd, from Preface)
Emily Dickinson has come to be regarded as one of the quintessential poets of 19th century America. A very private poet with a very quiet and reclusive life, her poetry was published posthumously and immediately found a wide audience.
While she echoed the romantic natural themes of her times, her style was much more free and irregular, causing many to criticize her and editors to “correct” her. In the early 20th century, when poetic style had become much looser, new audiences learned to appreciate her work. Here collected are many of her most contemplative, most rebellious, and “dark” works, expressing her frustrations with the behavioral confines of her times, and the confines of being human and unknowing of eternity. (Summary by Becky Miller)
Within my reach!
I could have touched!
I might have chanced that way!
Soft sauntered through the village,
Sauntered as soft away!
So unsuspected violets
Within the fields lie low,
Too late for striving fingers
That passed, an hour ago.