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Thomas Wentworth Higginson, the man of letters to whom Emily Dickinson first entrusted her poems, was dumbfounded by them, and asked, "What place ought to be assigned in literature to what is so remarkable, yet so elusive of criticism?" His question was answered only after Dickinson's death: She is now considered one of America's greatest poets. Her terse, oblique, visionary poems have almost no relation to the conventions of the second half of the 19th century, when they were written. They play adventurously with meter and ...