Category Archives: Dickinson (Emily)

Inducting Students into an Honor Society

Our English Department’s Sigma Tau Delta induction ceremony included passages from Willa Cather, Shakespeare, and Emily Dickinson.

Also posted in Browning (Robert), Cather (Willa), Shakespeare (William) | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Telling Your Name the Livelong Day

Insecure people like Trump claim that they know everything whereas poets embrace the words “I don’t know.” Emily Dickinson’s “I’m Nobody” captures the difference between poets and people like Trump.

Also posted in Szymborska (Wislawa) | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Three Poems for Surviving Trump

Hope is needed in the face to emotional exhaustion over Trumpism. Here are three poems about finding hope in dark times.

Also posted in Clifton (Lucille), Whyte (David) | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Emily Dickinson & Going to Heaven

In “Going to Heaven,” Emily Dickinson grapples with the idea of heaven but, in her skepticism, concludes that too much focus on the afterlife will draw her attention away from “curious earth.”

Posted in Dickinson (Emily) | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Doctors Need Lit To Stay Human

A doctor argues that continuous reading of literature is essential to keep doctors balanced and to help them deal with the problems that come with the profession.

Also posted in Fowler (Jaren Joy), Kazuo Ishiguro, Murakami (Haruki) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Emily Dickinson’s “Smart Misery” of Doubt

Emily Dickinson struggled with religious doubt all of her life. Because she desperately wanted to belief, some of her poems show her faith being tested.

Posted in Dickinson (Emily) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

To Strengthen Your Caring, Read Lit

When we become numb to the world’s horrors, the problem is not the numbness but the insufficient attention paid. Reading lit can help us overcome compassion fatigue

Also posted in Murdoch (Iris), Plato | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Does It Mean to Hope against Hope?

What does it mean to hope against hope? Emily Dickinson and an analytic philosopher weigh in.

Posted in Dickinson (Emily) | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

To Hear an Oriole Sing

I use an Emily Dickinson poem to root for my favorite baseball team, the Baltimore Orioles.

Posted in Dickinson (Emily) | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Eating and Drinking the Precious Words

An Emily Dickinson poem that will remind my graduating seniors to keep reading.

Posted in Dickinson (Emily) | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Waiting for the Tide to Turn

Dickinson, Coleridge and Dickens come to mind as we await the moment of my father’s death.

Also posted in Coleridge (Samuel Taylor), Dickens (Charles) | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

What Liberty a Loosened Spirit Brings

Although she didn’t go to church, Emily Dickinson was spiritually uplifted by reading the Bible.

Posted in Dickinson (Emily) | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Ah, Those Sensuous Summer Days

Emily Dickinson has written the most passionate summer poem I know.

Posted in Dickinson (Emily) | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

A Light Exists in Spring

Emily Dickinson captures magical light of spring–and its transience.

Posted in Dickinson (Emily) | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

No Frigate Like a Liberal Arts Education

Phi Beta Kappa’s John Churchill lectured our new inductees on Emily Dickinson and the vital importance of a liberal arts education for all.

Posted in Dickinson (Emily) | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

For a Mold Attack, Read Dickinson

Our College has closed down two dorms after a mold attack. Among the many remedies has been an Emily Dickinson poem.

Posted in Dickinson (Emily) | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

Class of 2011: Brains Deeper than the Sea

St. Mary’s College of Maryland President Joseph Urgo turned to an Emily Dickinson poem as he talked to graduates about the value of a liberal arts education.

Posted in Dickinson (Emily) | Tagged , , , , | Comments closed

Metaphors and the Brain

I read a fascinating article in yesterday’s New York Times on metaphors and the brain. If I understand Robert Sapolsky’s piece correctly, the insula—which is the part of the brain that processes, say, disgust with rotten food—also processes “rotten” when it is used as a metaphor (as in “the very deep did rot” from Rime […]

Posted in Dickinson (Emily) | Tagged , , | Comments closed

Finding God in Nature’s Church

The bobolink, Dickinson’s sexton and chorister  Spiritual Sunday “Remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy,” instructs the fourth commandment. How are we to keep it holy? Emily Dickinson, a writer who wrestled with the stern Calvinism of her day, observed the sabbath in her own way. She was a private person who was skeptical of […]

Posted in Dickinson (Emily) | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Emily Dickinson’s Deathbed Fly

Okay, here is a second post on poems about small winged pests, written in honor of President Obama’s cool and cold-blooded killing of a fly. When I was a child, I used to enjoy the poem about “the funny old lady who swallowed a fly.” It is one of those repetition poems, with a new […]

Also posted in Donne (John), Golding (William), Grimm Brothers, Swift (Jonathan) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed


  • Literature is as vital to our lives as food and shelter. Stories and poems help us work through the challenges we face, from everyday irritations to loneliness, heartache, and death. Literature is meant to mix it up with life. This website explores how it does so.

    Please feel free to e-mail me [rrbates (at) smcm (dot) edu]. I would be honored to hear your thoughts and questions about literature.

  • Sign up for weekly newsletter

    Your email will not be shared or sold.
    * = required field

    powered by MailChimp!
  • Twitter Authentication data is incomplete