Take Your Poet to Work: Emily Dickinson

Ever wish you could take your favorite poet along with you to work? You know, pop open the cash register drawer to make change for a customer and find her gazing back at you with those deep, dark eyes? And if you work from home? We think reclusive Emily Dickinson is the perfect poet to take to work in your home office. She won’t even complain if you work in your pajamas–she’ll be ghosting about in a house dress that’s as white as the bed linens.

Take Your Poet to Work Day is coming July 17.

To help you play and celebrate with us, we’re releasing poets each week in a compact, convenient format that you can tuck in your pocket, tool belt, or lunchbox. We’ve given you Sara Teasdale, Pablo Neruda, and T. S. Eliot. We even released a full collection, The Haiku Masters: Matsuo Basho, Yosa Buson, and Kobayashi Issa.

Is there a poet you’d like to see? Give us your suggestions in the comments. We’ll see what we can do.

Take Your Poet to Work: Emily Dickinson

Take Your Poet to Work - Emily Dickinson


Click here for a downloadable version of  Take Your Poet to Work – Emily Dickinson that you can print and color.

Perhaps in honor of Emily Dickinson, you could hold all of your business conversations from the other side of your office door for the day. Your coworkers would surely be impressed by your in-depth knowledge of the poet’s personality.

Saying nothing… sometimes says the most. — Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson was born in Amherst, MA, in 1830, the daughter of state and federal politician Edward Dickinson. A prolific poet, Dickinson was known to draft poems on the backs of envelopes and chocolate wrappers. Nearly 1800 of her poems were discovered by her family following her death, many in 40 handbound volumes she had sewn together, written in her own hand with her famously unorthodox punctuation.

emily dickinsonThe enigmatic poet is remembered as a recluse, rarely leaving the Dickinson estate. While she did receive callers at her home, conversations were often held from opposite sides of a closed door. She lived with her sister, Lavinia, while her brother Austin and his wife, Susan Gilbert, lived down a narrow path on the property. Her writing reflects profound loneliness as well as a deep capacity for love and affection, much of which is believed to have been shared with Gilbert.

Her first collection of poems, Poems by Emily Dickinson, was published four years after her death, with Poems: Second Series and Poems: Third Series following in the next several years. Like Walt Whitman (who she reportedly never read), she is considered one of the most influential poets in the emergence of a distinctly American poetic voice.

Visitors to Emily Dickinson’s grave can witness a lasting image of her perspective on life. The etching on her stone marking the date of her death bears the words “Called Back.”

Now, while you’re on the other side of that office door, perhaps you might read a couple of Dickinson’s poems to a coworker:

“Hope” is the thing with feathers – (314)

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –
I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.


Wild nights – Wild nights! (269)

Wild nights – Wild nights!
Were I with thee
Wild nights should be
Our luxury!
Futile – the winds –
To a Heart in port –
Done with the Compass –
Done with the Chart!
Rowing in Eden –
Ah – the Sea!
Might I but moor – tonight –
In thee!

Learn more about Take Your Poet to Work Day and our featured poets

Browse more Emily Dickinson

Post and illustrations by Lyla Willingham Lindquist.


Buy a year of Every Day Poems, just $5.99 — Read a poem a day, become a better poet. In June we’re exploring the theme Mirror, Mirror.

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  1. says

    This is the best idea I’ve ever heard of to get poetry into the hands of everyone! I love it, Lyla, and your illustrations are awesome. I’d love to see Wendell Berry and Billy Collins! Or are you stick with poets no longer living?


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