Emily Dickinson was America's best-known female poet and one of the foremost authors in American literature. She was born in1830 in Amherst Massachusetts and died in her hometown in1886, at the age of 56, due to illness. Emily was the middle child of three children. Her father, Edward Dickinson, was a prominent lawyer and one-term United States congressional representative. Her mother, Emily Norcross Dickinson, was a housewife. From 1840 to 1847 Emily attended the Amherst Academy, and from 1847 to 1848 she studied at the Mount Holyoke Female Seminary in South Hadley, a few miles from Amherst. During her lifetime, she published only about 10 of her nearly 2000 poems, in newspapers, Civil War journals, and a poetry anthology. Most people believed that Dickinson was an extreme recluse, but this is not entirely true. Although it is true that Emily never married and became very selective about the company she kept. Emily was far more sociable than most descriptions would have readers believe. She frequently entertained guests at her home and the home of her brother and sister-in-law during her 20's and 30's. Also, Dickinson kept up a huge correspondence with friends and family. Only recently are biographers beginning to recognize the role of Emily's sister-in-law, Susan Dickinson, in Emily's writing. They lived next door to each other for over 35 years, sharing mutual passions for literature, music, cooking, and gardening. It is rumored that Emily and Susan where secretly lovers. Emily sent Susan more than 400 poems and letters, twice as many as she sent to any other correspondent. Susan also is the only person at whose request Emily would actually change one of her poems. Evidence has also surfaced that Susan participated in the writing of many poems with Emily, and Susan was probably responsible for the few poems Emily actually printed during her lifetime. In the early stages of her career, Emily's handwritten lyrics were formally printed and her poetic techniques were conventional. But she later began to attend to the visual aspects of her poems. For example, she arranged and broke lines of verse in unusual ways and she created extravagantly shaped letters of the alphabet to emphasize a poem's meaning. She also added cutouts from novels, magazines, and even the Bible to augment her own use of language. Although few of Emily's poems were formally published during her lifetime, she was able to self "publish" by sending out at least one-third of her poems in more than 1000 letters she wrote to at least 100 different correspondents. Emily's method of binding about 800 of her poems into 40 manuscript books and distributing several hundred of them in letters are now widely recognized as her particular form of self-publication. She also read her poems aloud to several people, including her cousins Louise and Frances Norcross, over a period of three decades.
Poem #508 ( I'm Ceded)
I'm ceded -- I've stopped being Their's -- 1