Emily Dickinson held her poems as privately as she held herself. Born in Amherst, Massachusetts in 1830 to a wealthy family, Dickinson ventured outside her family circle only briefly to attend Mount Holyoke Female Seminary from 1847 to 1848, after which she returned home and seldom left. From the age of 30 Dickinson lived in isolation, associating only with family members and the rare visitor. Unbeknownst to those around her, Dickinson expressed her feelings, whether of loneliness, unrequited love, happiness or inspiration, in more than 800 poems, which went undiscovered until after her death in 1886. These were found bound in 40 hand-sewn volumes hidden in her room. The first collection of these was published in 1890. Although Dickinson was inspired by Robert Browning, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and John Keats, her work—replete with her characteristic capitalizations and odd punctuation is more often associated with that of Walt Whitman. Along with Whitman and other writers, Dickinson helped create a "uniquely American poetic voice" in literature. This animation of "I started Early..." was created by Maureen Selwood and is read by Blair Brown.
To read this and other poems by Emily Dickinson, as well as biographical information about the poet, please visit the Poetry Foundation Web site.