III. Your Riches Taught Me Poverty
Your riches taught me poverty.
Myself a millionnaire
In little wealths, — as girls could boast, —
Till broad as Buenos Ayre,
You drifted your dominions
A different Peru;
And I esteemed all poverty,
For life’s estate with you.
Of mines I little know, myself,
But just the names of gems, —
The colors of the commonest;
And scarce of diadems
So much that, did I meet the queen,
Her glory I should know:
But this must be a different wealth,
To miss it beggars so.
I ‘m sure ‘t is India all day
To those who look on you
Without a stint, without a blame, —
Might I but be the Jew!
I ‘m sure it is Golconda,
Beyond my power to deem, —
To have a smile for mine each day,
How better than a gem!
At least, it solaces to know
That there exists a gold,
Although I prove it just in time
Its distance to behold!
It ‘s far, far treasure to surmise,
And estimate the pearl
That slipped my simple fingers through
While just a girl at school!
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About 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.
The 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.
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.
She was born on December 10, 1830, and today 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—May 15, 1886—bears the words “Called Back.”