13 February 2009 | Vol. 8, No. 4

What if I say I shall not wait!

What if I say I shall not wait!

What if I burst the fleshly Gate—

And pass, escaped—to thee!

What if I file this Mortal—off—

See where it hurt me—That's enough—

And wade in Liberty!

They cannot take me—any more!

Dungeons can call—and Guns implore;

Unmeaning—now—to me—

As laughter—was—an hour ago—

Or Laces—or a Traveling Show—

Or Who died—yesterday!

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About the author:

1830-86. Dickinson lived her life in Amherst, Massachusetts, becoming, as she's famously known now, progressively reclusive. After her death, her sister discovered over 1000 poems in her bureau.

In 1862, Thomas Higginson, a well-known literary critic, published "Letter to a Young Contributor" in the Atlantic Monthly. Dickinson wrote to Higginson, asking if her "Verse is alive." She included four poems: "Safe in their Alabaster Chambers," "The nearest Dream recedes unrealized," "We play at Paste," and "I'll tell you how the Sun rose."

Learn more about Emily Dickinson at Wikipedia.

For further reading:

See the complete list of work by Emily Dickinson at 42opus. Browse the contents of 42opus Vol. 8, No. 4, where "What if I say I shall not wait!" ran on February 13, 2009. List other work with these same labels: poetry, classic.

42opus is an online magazine of the literary arts.

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