Poetry Friday: Emily Dickinson’s Letters to the World

With Jeanette Winter‘s Biblioburro selected as one of our new 2011 Spirit of PaperTigers Book Set, I have had a great time exploring more of her work. One little book that has delighted me is Emily Dickinson’s Letters to the World (Frances Foster Books/Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002)

It tells the story of the poet’s life through her sister, and begins with, “My sister Emily was buried today.” We are shown Emily’s room, and get a glimpse of her reclusive lifestyle – and then, in the course of the up to now rather sad narration, make the wonderful discovery alongside the sister, of the drawers full of poetry that nobody knew about while Emily was alive. Beginning with “This is my letter to the world”, it is a delightful way for young readers to be introduced to her poetry ,both for the poems themselves and their context.

The final two thirds of the book are given over to extracts from Dickinson’s poetry, ending with her sister’s avowal that “the world will read your letter – your poems.”  And the whole book is a treat for anyone who loves Jeanette Winter’s illustrations. The poet’s voice is emphasised, with Emily Dickinson in her trademark white dress depicted in some way on almost every page.

Here’s the whole of one of those special poems:

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.

This week’s Poetry Friday is hosted by Anastasia Suen at Picture Book of the Day – head on over…


5 Responses to “Poetry Friday: Emily Dickinson’s Letters to the World”

  1. Anastasia Suen Says:

    What a treasure!

    Thanks for participating in Poetry Friday this week!

    :-) Anastasia

  2. Sally Says:

    Wow, what a great book. Have to find it at my library!

  3. Linda Baie Says:

    This looks like another beautiful part about Emily’s life. I looked up more about the book & was able to see a few other pages. Beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Myra from GatheringBooks Says:

    I didn’t know about this book until you mentioned the Paper Tigers Book Set – this is truly a treat. I should look out for this one.
    “Hope is the thing with feathers
    That perches in the soul,
    And sings the tune without the words,
    And never stops at all” –> timeless timeless words.

    I had my nine year old memorize this poem during the summer. I don’t know though if she still remembers it. Her 4th grade teacher is now letting them memorize William Makepeace Thackeray – so the poems might get all crowded in her mind right about now. :)