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Featured Poem: There is no frigate like a book by Emily Dickinson

July 18, 2016

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Our Featured Poem this week comes from Emily Dickinson, a poem which perfectly captures the importance and value of reading for pleasure!

Born in Massachusetts in 1830, Dickinson’s family were well established within their local community, but Emily led a mostly introverted and reclusive life. She was thought of as an eccentric in her neighbourhood, dressing in white, reluctant to greet guests or later, to even leave her room.

Dickinson‘s style was revolutionary in her era, her poems containing short lines, often without a title, using slant rhyme, unconventional captialisation and punctuation. Fewer than a dozen of the nearly eighteen hundred poems she wrote were published in her lifetime, and were often significantly altered by publishers to fit the conventional poetic rules of the time.

The sheer breadth of her writing was not revealed until after Dickinson’s death in 1886 when her younger sister Lavinia discovered her cache of poems. Her first collection was published in 1890 by two acquaintances, Thomas Wentworth Higginson and Mabel Loomis Todd who heavily edited the poems. It was not until 1955 that a complete, unaltered collection of Emily Dickinson‘s poems was published by scholar Thomas H Johnson.

 

There is no frigate like a book

There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away,
Nor any coursers like a page
Of prancing poetry.
This traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of toll;
How frugal is the chariot
That bears a human soul!

Emily Dickinson

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