An English-to-English Translation of Emily Dickinson’s Poetry


So like everyone else, you love Emily Dickinson’s poems — but have you ever wished they were a little, well, shorter? No? They’re already generally quite short, you say? Well, hear us out. In The Emily Dickinson Reader: An English-to-English Translation of Emily Dickinson’s Complete Poems , published this week, Paul Legault “translates” each of Dickinson’s 1,789 poems into pithy, irreverent, and often insightful modern missives. There’s still just as much death, despair, flowers, and sexiness, but in a new streamlined form perfect for cocktail parties. After the jump, we’ve selected a few of our favorites of Legault’s translations (with Dickinson’s original poems linked to the numbers) for your poetic pleasure. Read alone in your room for proper absorption.

184. Love has really big hands.

314. Hope is kind of like birds. In that I don’t have any.

396. They overcharged me for this drink. The story of my life.

436. The sun is why we can see the sun.

555. We should sneak into that abandoned house over there. I think there’s a dead body in it.

745. Mountains, you are my best friend.

790. People are born small and slowly increase in size.

825. Jesus just flew in from Heaven and boy are his arms tired.

867. I knew I was having a mental breakdown when abstract concepts started to make noise.

957. People should be allowed to hate their jobs and not get shit for it.

1063. In Heaven, they don’t have lamps or the Sun or anything. The only way to see anything is by the glow that emits off of God’s naked body. It’s kind of frustrating, because you can’t just stay up late reading in bed unless you smuggle in a candle or something and God gets really mad if you do this. He feels like you don’t appreciate his giant glow-in-the-dark body and its ability to light up most things in its proximity.

1251. At least Time tried really hard not to be an asshole, even though he failed.

1350. Mushrooms are cute.

1386. Nobody cares that I got the perfect attendance award.

1393. There are small cows crawling across my eye.

1407. Squirrels have the best parties.

1408. Bats are weird-looking on purpose.

1409. I wish I had minions.

1455. There’s a little zombie inside of each and every one of us.

1473. I hate waiting for the train.

1535. I had a friend but she became feral.

1559. I’m kind of getting tired of naming all of the things that I prefer to people, but while I’m at it: butterflies.

1568. I want the little pirate that lives inside of my heart to be my friend.

1694. I like quiet sex.

1738. When I die I want to be buried in lotion.