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Emily Elizabeth Dickinson (1830-1886) is America's best-known female poet. She wrote on an extremely wide range of subjects, including humor, literature, love, death and faith. During her lifetime, she published only about 10 of her nearly 2,000 poems. Although few of her poems deal explicitly with military concerns, the War Between the States which raged during the prime of her life doubtless left a significant imprint on her life. The following poems touch on themes pertinent to the military life.


I NEVER hear the word "escape"
Without a quicker blood,
A sudden expectation,
A flying attitude.
I never hear of prisons broad
by soldiers battered down,
But I tug childish at my bars--
Only to fail again!


Who never lost, are unprepared
A coronet to find;
Who never thirsted, flagons
And cooling tamarind.

Who never climbed the weary league --
Can such a foot explore
The purple territories
On Pizarro's shore?

How many legions overcome?
The emperor will say.
How many colors taken
On Revolution Day?

How many bullets bearest?
The royal scar hast thou?
Angels, write "Promoted"
On this soldier's brow!

To Fight Aloud is Very Brave

To fight aloud is very brave,
But gallanter, I know,
Who charge within the bosom,
The cavalry of woe.

Who win, and nations do not see,
Who fall, and none observe,
Whose dying eyes no country
Regards with patriot love.

We trust, in plumed procession,
For such the angels go,
Rank after rank, with even feet
And uniforms of snow.


Step lightly on this narrow spot!
The broadest land that grows
Is not so ample as the breast
These emerald seams enclose.

Step lofty; for this name is told
As far as cannon dwell,
Or flag subsist, or fame export
Her deathless syllable.

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