Emily Dickinson is an American poet who wrote about life, love, nature and time and eternity. She was born in Amherst, Massachusetts in 1830. Except for a short time at Mont Holyoke Seminary, she lived with her parents and younger sister for most of her life. Her brother and his wife lived next door.
Her father was a state legislator and Dickinson met many people because of his position and her family’s prominence in the social community. The poet spent most of her adult life never leaving the house, rarely even coming out of her bedroom for several years.
“Dickinson’s poetry was heavily influenced by the Metaphysical poets of seventeenth-century England, as well as her reading of the Book of Revelation and her upbringing in a Puritan New England town, which encouraged a Calvinist, orthodox, and conservative approach to Christianity.” (poets.org)
Her younger sister, Lavinia, found thousands of poems in the writer desk after her death in 1886. Those poems were first published in 1890.
IF I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.
Two angels, one of Life and one of Death,
Passed o’er our village as the morning broke;
The dawn was on their faces, and beneath,
The sombre houses hearsed with plumes of smoke.
Their attitude and aspect were the same,
Alike their features and their robes of white;
But one was crowned with amaranth, as with flame,
And one with asphodels, like flakes of light.
I saw them pause on their celestial way;
Then said I, with deep fear and doubt oppressed,
“Beat not so loud, my heart, lest thou betray
The place where thy beloved are at rest!”
And he who wore the crown of asphodels,
Descending, at my door began to knock,
And my soul sank within me, as in wells
The waters sink before an earthquake’s shock.
I recognized the nameless agony,
The terror and the tremor and the pain,
That oft before had filled or haunted me,
And now returned with threefold strength again.
The door I opened to my heavenly guest,
And listened, for I thought I heard God’s voice;
And, knowing whatsoe’er he sent was best,
Dared neither to lament nor to rejoice.
Then with a smile, that filled the house with light,
“My errand is not Death, but Life,” he said;
And ere I answered, passing out of sight,
On his celestial embassy he sped.
‘T was at thy door, O friend! and not at mine,
The angel with the amaranthine wreath,
Pausing, descended, and with voice divine,
Whispered a word that had a sound like Death.
Then fell upon the house a sudden gloom,
A shadow on those features fair and thin;
And softly, from that hushed and darkened room,
Two angels issued, where but one went in.
All is of God! If he but wave his hand,
The mists collect, the rain falls thick and loud,
Till, with a smile of light on sea and land,
Lo! he looks back from the departing cloud.
Angels of Life and Death alike are his;
Without his leave they pass no threshold o’er;
Who, then, would wish or dare, believing this,
Against his messengers to shut the door?
By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was an American poet and educator whose works include “Paul Revere’s Ride”, The Song of Hiawatha, and Evangeline. He was also the first American to translate Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, and was one of the five Fireside Poets.
February 27, 1807 – March 24, 1882
If you enjoyed “The Two Angels” poem By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, then you will enjoy listening to “She Wrestled with an Angle” by Entrance Way at Ward Kelley’s – When the Poet meets the Musician.
Annie Easily Unraveled
Pages rubbed away from my past,
a deft yearning to pick the correct thrust . . .
it matters greatly that I assume
a proper elegance, because any lie
can be acceptable if delivered
with a respectable decorum.
And pages always swirled down
the pathways of my life; I now understand
the only control I possess means sorting and re-sorting the past, those multicolored leaves meant
to decorate the various trails through history.
How does one construct an argument
uttered so precisely it will propound
the annals of correct acts by human beings?
This remains my obsession, perhaps my undoing,
as women like me can be easily unraveled
by the pheromone desire to survive into other centuries.
So if words can be slingshotted like tiny satellites
far into the future, carrying some cryptic pictogram
of the true intentions of the human race—
all our millions of desires simplified into a few
respectable drawings on newly discovered metal
alloys – if words can truly do this for me,
than it’s worth any effort
to elegantly pick through all these pages
and try to place some distinct order
on how I want to be remembered
in the teeming with all the other aspirants.
I suspect my ledger still balances favorably,
regardless of my current understanding.
Anne Sexton (1928-1974) was an American poet known for her unadulterated chronicling of intimate and socially taboo subjects. She won the Pulitzer in 1967 for “Love or Die,” and gave her answer to that title in 1974 with her death by her own hand. She once wrote of frequent drinking dates at the Ritz with Sylvia Plath: “Often, very often, Sylvia and I would talk at length about our first suicides; at length, in detail, and in depth between the free potato chips. Suicide is, after all, the opposite of a poem.”
Anne Sexton Quotes:
Live or die, But don’t poison everything.
Well, one gets out of bed and the planets dont always hiss or muck up the day, each day.
The beautiful feeling after writing a poem is on the whole better even than after sex, and that’s saying a lot.
It doesn’t matter who my father was; it matters who I remember he was.
Put your ear down close to your soul and listen hard.
I cannot promise very much. I give you the images I know. Lie still with me and watch. We laugh and we touch. I promise you love. Time will not take that away.