Richard Howard, Pulitzer prize-winning poet, scholar, teacher, critic, and translator, focuses his insight and appreciation on Emily Dickinson's work from the year — 1862 considered her "flood" year during which she unleashed a torrent of poetry. Howard, who teaches at Columbia University, is the poetry editor of The Paris Review, and recently taught a master class on Dickinson for the Poetry Society of America.
After great pain, a formal feeling comes
After great pain, a formal feeling comes —
The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs —
The stiff Heart questions was it He, that bore,
And Yesterday, or Centuries before?
The Feet, mechanical, go round —
Of Ground, or Air, or Ought —
A Wooden way
A Quartz contentment, like a stone —
This is the Hour of Lead —
Remembered, if outlived,
As Freezing persons recollect the Snow —
First — Chill — then Stupor — then the letting go —
Emily Dickinson, (1862)
Reprinted by permission of the publishers and the Trustees of Amherst College from The Poems of Emily Dickinson: Reading Edition , Ralph W. Franklin, editor, Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Copyright © 1999, 1998, 1983, 1955, 1951 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College.