Breathing Emily Dickinson: Inspiration/Expiration

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Breathe, n

A. Whisper; utter softly; speak privately; [fig.] confide; make known

Breathe in Ear more modern

God’s old fashioned vows

B. Inhale and exhale; process air through the lungs; [fig.] live; subsist

And now, by Life deprived,

In my own Grave I breathe

C. Exist; show life force; [fig.] purr; yowl; make vibrant animal sounds

With thee in the Tamarind wood

Leopard breathes — at last!

D. Absorb; assimilate; internalize; infuse; gather.

And now, removed from Air

I simulate the Breath, so well

E. Gasp; draw in air; respond with admiration

‘Tis Costly — So are purples!

‘Tis just the price of Breath

F. Flutter; flicker; waver; hover; palpitate; [fig.] betray; vacillate; be unfaithful:

An hour behind the fleeting breath

G. Share; experience; partake of; have in common

When it comes, the Landscape listens

Shadows — hold their breath

H. Inhale deeply; rest from action; recover from panic

Straighten — look cautious for their Breath

But make no syllable — like Death

I. Circulate; disperse; mobilize; pass around; cause to move

We breathed

Then dropped the Air

Which bore it best?

J. Speak; communicate; express truth; transmit knowledge; [fig.] commune

A Word that breathes distinctly

Has not the power to die

Breathing, verbal n

A. Gasp; hyperventilation; respiration; sudden inhalation of air; [fig.] nervousness; anxiety; feeling of caution; sign of fear

To suspend the Breath

Is the most we can

B. Existing; living; surviving; enduring; abiding

For this — accepted Breath

Through it — compete with Death

Breathless, adj

A. Unearthly; eternal; timeless; not mortal; [fig.] active; racing; rapid; speedy; in a hurry

the breathless sun

B. Not exhaling; holding in air; unable to breathe freely;

[fig.] pendulous; suspended; full of anticipation; paralyzed from emotion

the breathless Bee

And when her breath was done1For the lexicon, see Emily Dickinson Lexicon, Brigham Young University, 2007-2023,; for Emily Dickinson’s works extracts, see Emily Dickinson Poems, University of Pennsylvania,

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