Book Review: The Selected Poems of Emily Dickinson

Hi everyone! I hope you’re all well! It’s Friday, which means it’s time for another review, and today I am reviewing The Selected Poems of Emily Dickinson.

The Selected Poems of Emily Dickinson was Published in 2000 by Modern Library and (my copy) is 336 pages long.

Emily Dickinson’s poems were some of the first poetry I ever read, and she has become one of my favourite poets. The sad thing about Emily is that nearly all her poems were discovered, tucked away in her desk drawer by her sister after her death. Of over 1,700 poems that she wrote, only a handful of them was ever published during her lifetime.


The book begins with an introduction by Billy Collins, Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001 to 2003, who gives quite an in-depth look at Emily and her style of poetry in just a few short pages.

From there, the book gives us Emily Dickinson in all her poetic glory, with the book divided into the sections of  Life, Nature, Love, and Time and Eternity, each containing poems relating to the section’s theme.

A few of my favourites are:

‘Number 6 (If I can stop one Heart from Breaking)’ from the section titled ‘Life’,

‘Number 97 (To Make a Prairie) from the section titled ‘Nature’,

‘Number 6 (If you were Coming in the Fall’ from the section titled ‘Love’,


‘Number 27 (Because I Could not Stop for Death) from the section ‘Time and Eternity’.


The only character important enough to mention here is Emily herself. Her wisdom, intelligence and wonder glow in her words that shine up from the page, and when I read them, it’s like she’s still present. In a way, she is still present in that all her hopes, fears and musings, things that made her who she was, are entombed forever within the pages of this book and many others like it.

Writing Style

Reading Dickinson’s poetry can be mildly confusing because most have no title. Some publishers have added a title, often taken from the initial line of the poem, but a lot of the time,  as in this collection, the poems are only numbered. I prefer the former because my mind likes how ordered a poem looks with a title above instead of a number, but Emily Dickinson herself left them untitled, so it’s fair that they should be left that way.

Many of her poems are relatively short, but her usage of vivid imagery mixed with relatable themes makes many of them pack a powerful punch.

But beyond the titles (or lack thereof), and length, Dickinson’s style is unconventional in that she ignores many grammatical conventions and extensively uses dashes and dots.

Final Thoughts

Even though she lived and died long before I was born, I find Emily’s words extremely relatable. She talks about a broad range of subjects in her writing, from grief and death to hope and life, and even loneliness, all things every human can relate to. As I read through them, many of the poems felt as though they were written specifically for me, which, in my opinion, is a sign of a good poet.

I am giving The Selected Poems of Emily Dickinson a 9/10.

Do you enjoy Dickinson’s poems? Do you have a favourite?

As always, thank you for stopping by and giving this review a read. It means a lot!

Until next time,


© 2023 GLT

Categories: Book Reviews, Reading

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