Tag Archives: Emily Dickinson

What Wondrous Things

What wondrous things await, within the valley of just?
Whose mountain tops glisten by the rasp of wakened Sun,
yet shiver our spine for knowing it’s icy crust.

Yay, such secrets are those that show when we are done,
when our bodies lay to rest in the infinite realm of ever.
and praises to He on high shall sing as have been sung.

Whisper children, whisper now,
those things we find within our youth,
the simplest majesty of a tree,
with leaves and seeds and heredity.

Do not wonder, needn’t wonder how,
such intricacies require no sleuth.
For in His plan, child, it is we –
who live in glorious eternity.

Only a Doubting Thomas shall fail,
his soul like smoke in a pushing gale.
Forever destined to his earthly wail,
Eternity clouded by a dusty veil…..

Hold your innocence, high and true,
Always love as only love can do.
You will find me and I – will find you!

© 2014 John Allen Richter



A Coffin—is a small Domain,
Yet able to contain
A Citizen of Paradise
In its diminished Plane.
A Grave—is a restricted Breadth—
Yet ampler than the Sun—
And all the Seas He populates
And Lands He looks upon
To Him who on its small Repose
Bestows a single Friend—
Circumference without Relief—
Or Estimate—or End— 

Emily Dickinson, A coffin is a Small Domain



I very seldomly write poetry to specific form, and this poem is no alteration to that plan, for sure.  I write in an eclectic style, (Am I coining that phrase?) always have and always will I suppose.  Form poetry is sometimes fun, but more often than not difficult at best and rewarded only by appraisement of how well the poet was able to stay within the “coloring lines,” so to speak.  I prefer to rip the structured coloring pages out of the book and use the blank pages, for poetry is emotion and there is no standard form that will ever strictly conform to my emotions.  In my opinion form poetry robs emotion.  And I would include meter in that judgment as well.

But from time to time I will play with form in an eclectic style  as in this poem.  And the form is often so subtle that it goes unnoticed by the reader intentionally.  If all verses were tercet and of a certain number, and the ending verse had only two lines then anyone would recognize it as a villanelle poem.  While this poem is not, I did borrow one element of the villanelle in the first two verses, A rhymes with C while B rhymes with A and C of the following verse.   Verses 3 and 4 are quatrains that appear to have no rhyme at all.  But if you look closely at both verses you can see that A rhymes with A, B rhymes with B, etc., etc..

Finally the last two verses are both quatrain and tercet  (as a comment on the use of both above) and both final verses are direct tail rhymes.  A tougher element would have been to add the rhymes in the center of each line, but that requires strict meter.  I find center rhyming great fun though and used it several times in my poem “Fourteen.” 

Above I quoted a poem from my favorite poet, who I would also call an eclectic poet.  Emily rarely used form poetry, she included meter only when it benefited the poem, not the reader, and would often create her own broken meter by the use of dashes…  When read correctly I think it is a direct link to her internal beat as a poet.  Frankly I find it beautiful.  Unfortunately, her contemporary publishers did not.  To each his own, young poets!


Ode to Emily Dickinson

Lately I have toyed with the idea of writing an ode to my favorite poet of all time, Miss Emily Dickinson.    A quick study of odes found two poets that really stand out to me. Keats and Shelley.  Keats mastery of assonance is simply not attainable, so here I focus on Shelley’s style that he used for at least two different odes that I know of.   The ode inspiring my own attempt below was his “Ode to West Wind,” (Click here to see Shelley’s Poem) and it was written in terza rima, rhyming scheme a-b-a, b-c-b, c-d-c, d-e-d, e-f-e, f-g-f, g-g.



Ode to Emily Dickinson

Oh dearest Emily, thou crafty pen aflare,
thine eyes once fell on nature’s things,
whose tamed songs you sang aware.

And in this world of hushed flusterings
where strife once owned thy soul
we’re left to dredge meanderings

to find thy rhyme of rhythm bold.
Whence thy soul passed thru those golden gates,
with lost loves safely a’stowed,

and earthly devils cracked thy crates,
and spil’t thy lifetime of prose,
did you think them once confederates?

Or old friends in beggars clothes?
That they should traipse your savored scripts
and in your death did’st fame arose.

My Emily, sleep thou safe in crypts,
Eternally rest thy tempest soul
Allow promises from my sparing lips:

That ever most dear my heart shall hold,
Thy words closer than any love e’er told…



Emily Dickinson was born in 1830 in Amherst, Massachusetts,  and lived in the family home all of her life until she died at age 55 in 1886.  Having spent her younger years at different learning institutes where she met and became friends with other poets and writers, she moved back to her family home and slowly became reclusive, communicating mostly by letter with her dear friends.  Except for a younger sister, most of her family and friends passed away early in her life, leaving her sad and somewhat fixated on death.  But I don’t think her poems are dark, just incredibly sensitive and emotional.  She is my favorite poet who has ever lived.  While alive she was able to publish only a handful of her poems, which were edited heavily by the publishers.  Emily’s style was way before it’s time, and her poetry did not follow the normal standards of poetry in her day.  So basically she was shunned in the field of literature, which is what irritates me about those who would attempt to define what poetry should or should not be.  Emily was a prolific poet, anyone who knew her knew this about her.  But after her death, everyone was surprised when two of her acquaintances found nearly 1800 poems stashed away in her home.   The two published her poetry almost immediately, however they edited it heavily again to meet the poetic standards of the day, or they thought they were.  In 1955 a historian Thomas Johnson published what what he believed to be a complete collection of her unedited poems, but no one really knows that for sure.

Percy Bysshe Shelley was born fairly aristocratic in England in 1792 and died at age 29 in 1822.   His fame was due in large part, (I believe) to his close friendship with fellow poets John Keats and Lord Byron.  Shelley was a bit of a non-conformist as a young man, and even was expelled from college for his views.  He married and his wife became pregnant, at which time he abandoned her and actually met and moved in with lover Mary Godwin, who later became his wife Mary Shelley.  You might recognize her genius name as the author of “Frankenstein.”   At some point his first wife was found dead, floating in a river, I think, which freed him to wed Mary.  I think Percy was a bit of a social blundering idiot, even Mark Twain derided him publicly for abandoning his wife.  I am of the same mind.  I also think that he took his position in the literary world for granted, approaching it in a non-chalant way as if it was a natural order of things.  Percy was an incredibly talented poet.  But his life as a human is just sad to me. 

Poetry lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world, and makes familiar objects be as if they were not familiar.

-Percy Bysshe Shelley

© 2011 John Richter

New World Friends

Emily Dickinson Using Facebook?

This new world is far from that which Walt Whitman or Emily Dickinson once knew.  I wonder if they would have incorporated the wonderful new things of technology into their poetry, like the overpowering realm of Facebook and cell phones (had they existed then).  

Walt often wrote about the contemporary ocean vessels of his day, which were cutting edge at the time.  Likewise, Emily wrote about horses and carriages, the modern day equivalent to our own automobiles.  So I think she did incorporate some of the current technology into her poetry.  Today we envision Walt’s ships and Emily’s carriages as quaint.  Perhaps future generations will see such references to the technology in our lives as quaint, or perhaps things like Facebook will eventually fade away into obscurity leaving our future readers unable to understand it.

In any case I think Emily would have used Facebook profusely as she corresponded with her friends.  Although she rarely ventured out to meet them face to face, she was fond of writing letters with them.  So that’s why I wonder about it.

A few weeks ago I sent a “friend request” to a lovely and very published poet on Facebook and later I was away from home when my cell phone buzzed.  Pushing a couple of buttons I discovered that Facebook sent me a notification to explain that my new friend accepted my request!  I was excited and when finally returning home I composed the following poem in honor of her.   I don’t know if generations 100 years from now will understand the references, but I think most of us can.  I hope you enjoy my little poem.  I wrote it with the spirit of Emily Dickinson flouncing around in the back of my mind, thinking that this is how she might have written a similar poem in her day.  Thank you for visiting.

New World Friends


The morning simmered the glistening dew,
returning it’s angelic luster to the heavens.
And the bees
played in threes
round the lilacs in dozens…

There my heart laid amidst the blooms,
the springing day and sprouting shrooms,
when my pocket buzzed with such unrest,
and saw you accepted my friend request….

So I left that garden to find another beauty,
as a matter of loving duty,
to thank the delicate heart who found mine
seeking friendship for all time…….



© 2011 John Richter