Online Texts for Craig White's Literature Courses

  • Not a critical or scholarly text but a reading text for a seminar

  • Gratefully adapted from various web sources

Emily Dickinson

Selected Poetry

[A bird came down the walk]

(Dickinson Style Sheet)

Emily Dickinson (1830-86)
(daguerrotype taken app. 1846)

Questions: 1. Dickinson's poetry may seem to operate in some timeless realm, but how may it reflect its time-period of late Romanticism, bordering on early Realism?

2. What characteristics of Dickinson's style? Or, how can you tell this is a poem by Emily Dickinson?

3. Compare this poem's form as "free verse" or "formal verse" with poems by Poe and Whitman (and other poems by Dickinson). (Comparative Study of Poe, Whitman, Dickinson)

[1]  A Bird, came down the Walk—
[2]  He did not know I saw —
[3]  He bit an Angle Worm in halves
[4]  And ate the fellow, raw,

[5]  And then he drank a Dew
[6]  From a convenient Grass —
[7]  And then hopped sidewise to the Wall
[8]  To let a Beetle pass —

[9]   He glanced with rapid eyes
[10] That hurried all abroad —
[11] They looked like frightened Beads, I thought,
[12] He stirred his Velvet Head. —

[13] Like one in danger, Cautious,
[14]  I offered him a Crumb,
[15]  And he unrolled his feathers
[16]  And rowed him softer Home

[17]  Than Oars divide the Ocean,
[18]  Too silver for a seam,
[19]  Or Butterflies, off Banks of Noon,
[20]  Leap, plashless as they swim.






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