When I started to read Ms. Dickinson’s Complete Poems, I knew that I wouldn’t want to create commentary on each one, but that some would strike me more than others. So I tore strips from a pad of sticky notes and marked each one I liked. Of 1775 poems, these are the ones I marked. You can see that I became more enthusiastic about them the more I read.

And of the lot, #1176 is my favorite:

We never know how high we are
Till we are asked to rise
And then if we are true to plan
Our statures touch the skies —

The Heroism we recite
Would be a normal thing
Did not ourselves the Cubits warp
For fear to be a King —

These 68 would make up (based on but one reading and no scholarship, to be certain), my Selected edition of her work…

    1. 70 – “Arcturus” is his other name—
    2. 254 – Hope is the thing with feathers
    3. 323 – As if I asked a common Alms –
    4. 341 – After great pain, a formal feeling comes – 
    5. 371 – A precious — mouldering pleasure — ’tis —
    6. 435 – Much madness is divinest sense
    7. 451 – The Outer — from the Inner
    8. 480 – “Why do I love” You, Sir?
    9. 512 – The Soul has Bandaged moments —
    10. 520 – I started Early — Took my Dog —
    11. 521 – Endow the Living — with the Tears —
    12. 530 – You cannot put a Fire out —
    13. 570 – I could die — to know —
    14. 584 – It ceased to hurt me, though so slow
    15. 587 – Empty my Heart, of Thee —
    16. 595 – Like Mighty Foot Lights — burned the Red
    17. 660 – ‘Tis good — the looking back on Grief —
    18. 670 – One need not be a Chamber — to be Haunted —
    19. 686 – They say that “Time assuages” —
    20. 695 – As if the Sea should part
    21. 703 – Out of sight? What of that?
    22. 747 – Drama’s Vitallest Expression is the Common Day
    23. 771 – None can experience sting
    24. 822 – This Consciousness that is aware
    25. 823 – Not that We did, shall be the test
    26. 851 – When the Astronomer stops seeking
    27. 869 – Because the Bee may blameless hum
    28. 912 – Peace is a fiction of our Faith —
    29. 923 – How the Waters closed above Him
    30. 947 – Of Tolling Bell I ask the cause?
    31. 949 – Under the Light, yet under,
    32. 958 – We met as Sparks — Diverging Flints
    33. 959 – A loss of something ever felt I —
    34. 969 – He who in Himself believes —
    35. 1010 – Up Life’s Hill with my little Bundle
    36. 1035 – Bee! I’m expecting you!
    37. 1054 – Not to discover weakness is
    38. 1058 – Bloom — is Result — to meet a Flower
    39. 1129 – Tell all the Truth but tell it slant —
    40. 1142 – The Props assist the House
    41. 1146 – When Etna basks and purrs
    42. 1176 – We never know how high we are
    43. 1207 – He preached upon “Breadth” till it argued him narrow —
    44. 1219 – Now I knew I lost her —
    45. 1227 – My Triumph lasted till the Drums
    46. 1263 – There is no Frigate like a Book
    47. 1304 – Not with a Club, the Heart is broken
    48. 1379 – His Mansion in the Pool
    49. 1380 – How much the present moment means
    50. 1383 – Long Years apart — can make no
    51. 1392 – Hope is a strange invention —
    52. 1397 – It sounded as if the Streets were running
    53. 1451 – Whoever disenchants
    54. 1498 – Glass was the Street — in tinsel Peril
    55. 1507 – The Pile of Years is not so high
    56. 1521 – The Butterfly upon the Sky,
    57. 1530 – A Pang is more conspicuous in Spring
    58. 1545 – The Bible is an antique Volume —
    59. 1551 – Those — dying then,
    60. 1563 – By homely gift and hindered Words
    61. 1633 – Still own thee — still thou art
    62. 1640 – Take all away from me, but leave me Ecstasy,
    63. 1664 – I did not reach Thee
    64. 1670 – In Winter in my Room
    65. 1706 – When we have ceased to care
    66. 1717 – Did life’s penurious length
    67. 1731 – Love can do all but raise the Dead
    68. 1755 – To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,