December 10 marks what would have been Emily Dickinson's 181st birthday. Although Dickinson is now widely regarded as one of the great American poets, fewer than ten of her nearly 1,700 poems were actually published in her lifetime. Dickinson herself was a private person, who by age thirty had more or less withdrawn altogether from society, yet her poetry is expressive and full of emotion. In honor of this prolific writer’s birthday, here is one of my favorite Dickinson poems:
They Shut Me Up in Prose – (445)
They shut me up in Prose –
As when a little Girl
They put me in the Closet –
Because they liked me "still" –
Still! Could themself have peeped –
And seen my Brain – go round –
They might as wise have lodged a Bird
For Treason – in the Pound –
Himself has but to will
And easy as a Star
Abolish his Captivity –
And laugh – No more have I –
Do you have a favorite poem by Emily Dickinson? Leave a comment below. Also check out the following resources for ideas and tools for teaching Emily Dickinson in the classroom:
- Emily Dickinson Museum: This website for the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst, MA, offers biographical information, tips for reading Dickinson’s poems, lesson plans, and more. Don’t miss the "Teachers on Teaching" page, where K–12 teachers share their experiences teaching Dickinson in the classroom.
- Poetry Foundation: In addition to an extensive biography and selected poems, this resource includes articles about Dickinson and her works, videos suitable for younger grade levels, and audio material and podcasts.
- National Endowment for the Arts (NEA): As part of NEA’s “The Big Read” initiative, a program designed to restore reading to the center of American culture, NEA offers both readers’ and teachers’ guides for better understanding, analyzing, and teaching Emily Dickinson’s works. Providing historical context, possible discussion questions and essay topics, lesson plans, and audio recordings of Dickinson’s poetry, this comprehensive resource is an excellent tool for teachers and students alike.
- Dickson Electronic Archives: Produced by the Dickinson Editing Collective, this webpage is home to critical resources, responses to Dickinson’s writing, writings by the Dickinson family, and more.