I Told My Soul to Sing: Finding God with Emily Dickinson

I Told My Soul to Sing: Finding God with Emily Dickinson

by Kristin LeMay


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Many readers think that Emily Dickinson rejected religion and wanted nothing to do with God. And yet her poetry and life tell a deeper story. Looking closely at twenty-five rare and resonant poems, this intimate portrait reveals how Dickinson occasionally believed, thoughtfully doubted, and in her divine wrestling, met God. In chapters on belief, prayer, mortality, immortality, and beauty, Kristin LeMay uncovers the riches of Dickinson’s spiritual life and tells of her own search for God between the lines of the poems Dickinson called “hymns.”

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781612611631
Publisher: Paraclete Press
Publication date: 10/01/2012
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 915,647
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Kristin LeMay studied at Harvard Divinity School and Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. She teaches writing at Ohio University in the Appalachian foothills. Visit her website at kristinlemay.org.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1 Belief I could not find my "yes" 17






2 Prayer Prayer is the little implement 75






3 Mortality The tranquiller to die 127


learning to die




4 Immortality I stand alive - Today 167






5 Beauty The Bird her punctual music brings 209



grasped by God



Acknowledgments 255

Notes 256

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“LeMay elegantly combines accessible literary analysis with her own spiritual memoir of
search, doubt, and faith.”– Sojourners Magazine

“Creative and soul-stretching…Many of those who identify themselves as spiritual
but not religious might adopt this American poet as their patron saint after reading this
fascinating book.”– Spirituality & Practice

“Kristin LeMay's captivating I Told My Soul to Sing: Finding God with Emily Dickinson
is a hybrid of devotional writing, spiritual memoir, and literary analysis—and the kind of
book we wish we saw more often. It is a daring endeavor: as Tweetspeak Poetry said, "an
interesting combination of genres and approaches that could have easily gone awry." But
LeMay deftly combines literary analysis with her faith experiences in a way that enriches
the well-loved poems of Emily Dickinson, while simultaneously widening the genre of
spiritual autobiography. . . . We have to agree with Parnassus editor Herbert Leibowitz;
this cross-genre gem is "a smart, seriously playful, winning, and readable commentary."
Or, if we could borrow the words of Emily Dickinson herself, we might say that LeMay
achieves "the Heart's portrait—every Page a Pulse.” Widen your understanding of the
highly personal ways in which art and faith intersect.” – Image

“For anyone who appreciates good poetry (Dickinson), good writing (LeMay), or
thoughtful engagement with modern concerns (beauty, mortality, prayer, for instance),
this would be a good read.” –Religious Herald

“It’s an interesting combination of genres and approaches that could have easily gone
awry. But it works, and it works well. Dickinson, in LeMay’s hands, becomes more
than a poet; she is a friend (LeMay refers to her as “Emily” throughout), a mentor, a
fellow pilgrim in a spiritual journey, and eventually a kind of saint. The author had a
strong sympathy for and identification with her subject but never subsides into idealizing
Dickinson or glossing over her flaws. The poet is in turn skeptic, doubter, ardent believer,
rebel and conformist, and often all at the same time. In short, LeMay’s Dickinson is
remarkably human.” – Tweetspeak Poetry

“This is great stuff – knowledge and data mixed with insight and imagination, which
informs and enriches not only our reading of the poem, but our way of understanding
God.”– Thinking Faith

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