1863 | Amherst, MA

On the Contrary

For Emily Dickinson, time does not heal everything.

They say that “time assuages”—
 Time never did assuage—
An actual suffering strengthens
 As sinews do, with age.

Time is a test of trouble—
 But not a remedy—
If such it prove, it prove too
 There was no malady—



Emily Dickinson

From an untitled poem. Dickinson wrote to a friend in 1858 from her childhood house in Amherst, where she lived most of her life, “I do not cross my father’s ground to any house or town.” She liked to compose poems in her bedroom; although she wrote over seventeen hundred of them, she published only a handful. Helen Hunt Jackson, who later placed one of Dickinson’s poems in an anonymous collection, wrote to her, “You are a great poet—and it is a wrong to the day you live in that you will not sing aloud. When you are what men call dead, you will be sorry you were so stingy.”