Featured Poem: Emily Dickinson, ‘With a flower’

Emily Dickinson is one of the most popular and well known American poets, but also among the most difficult to understand. Her poetry has an attractive simplicity and despite the clear-headed way with which she addresses subjects like death, there is also a softness in her work. This poem, ‘With a flower’ is among her best known. Flowers are often used by poets as symbols of the fragility of love, or life, but here Dickinson writes–as she does so often–at one remove. Not only is the supposed lover unaware of the writer’s presence hiding ‘within my flower’ but the flower dying in the vase is just that. Dickinson’s realism is such that the lover is unsuspecting and the loneliness not quite even that:

I hide myself within my flower,
That wearing on your breast,
You, unsuspecting, wear me too —
And angels know the rest.

I hide myself within my flower,
That, fading from your vase,
You, unsuspecting, feel for me
Almost a loneliness.

Posted by Chris Routledge

3 thoughts on “Featured Poem: Emily Dickinson, ‘With a flower’”

  1. Exquisite in the truest sense: passion informed by pain. Almost, to misquote Ruskin’s epithet, ‘[em]pathetic fallacy’. Thanks, Chiris, both for posting this and a smashing website.

  2. I don’t usually get on with Emily Dickinson but really like this poem — thanks for posting it. It seems half-way between Dorothy Parker and John Donne. ‘Almost’ isn’t usually a word that does much work in poetry, but here it’s the load-bearing word. Very deft and bigger than the size of the two verses.

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