Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)
There is probably no woman in the history of our country’s literature who is worthy to touch the hem of Emily Dickinson’s garb. In our obsession with the “Great American Novel,” we have quite forgotten that we have no other real claimants to the title of “Great American Poetess.” And by “Poetess,” I do not mean to belittle her excellence. She stands side by side with Walt Whitman, Robert Frost, Edgar Allan Poe, and Ezra Pound—and not so much as a half step behind any of them. She is, in sum, a national treasure.
Here is one of her short, savage poems which will leave you gasping:
Wild Nights—Wild Nights
Wild nights - Wild nights! Were I with thee Wild nights should be Our luxury! Futile - the winds - To a Heart in port - Done with the Compass - Done with the Chart! Rowing in Eden - Ah - the Sea! Might I but moor - tonight - In thee!