I Lost a World by Emily Dickinson

American poet Emily Dickinson, c. 1850.

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) was an intensely private person. Out of her nearly 1,800 poems fewer than a dozen were published during her lifetime. The first volume of her poetry saw the light of day four years after her death and was an instant success. Emily Dickinson is now considered one of America’s greatest and most original poets of all time.

In I Lost a World the poet talks about her loss of something highly valuable to her but it’s not clear what it could be. Possibilities could range from a book to a loved one. What is clear, though, is that preciousness of things isn’t absolute: what is of greatest importance to one person might have no value for another.

I lost a World — the other day!
Has Anybody found?
You’ll know it by the Row of Stars
Around its forehead bound.

A Rich man — might not notice it —
Yet — to my frugal Eye,
Of more Esteem than Ducats —
Oh find it — Sir — for me!

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