Advancing in Poetry Advancing in Poetry    

Lesson 4: By the Sea

by Emily Dickinson

Performer: Librivox - Bellona Times

I started Early, took my Dog,

And visited the Sea;

The Mermaids in the Basement

Came out to look at me.

And Frigates – in the Upper Floor

Extended Hempen Hands –

Presuming Me to be a Mouse –

Aground – upon the Sands –

But no Man moved Me – till the Tide

Went past my simple Shoe –

And past my Apron – and my Belt

And past my Bodice – too –

And made as He would eat me up –

As wholly as a Dew

Upon a Dandelion's Sleeve –

And then – I started – too –

And He – He followed – close behind –

I felt His Silver Heel

Upon my Ankle – Then My Shoes

Would overflow with Pearl –

Until We met the Solid Town –

No Man He seemed to know –

And bowing – with a Mighty look –

At me – The Sea withdrew –

    Advancing in Poetry Advancing in Poetry    

Lesson 4: By the Sea

by Emily Dickinson

Performer: Librivox - Bellona Times


Study the poem for one week.

Over the week:

  • Read or listen to the poem.
  • Review the synopsis.
  • Read about the poet.
  • Complete the enrichment activities.


Emily Dickinson's 'By the Sea' describes a girl and her dog taking an early morning stroll along the sea. The tide eventually rises and drives her away. In stanzas one and two, the sea is a house with mermaids in the basement (under the water) and sailors upstairs (above the water). For the remaining stanzas, as the tide rises, the sea becomes a man who threatens to drown the narrator and chases her back to town.


  1. Emily Dickinson was born in 1830 in Amherst, Massachusetts. Study her portrait.
  2. Zoom in and find Dickinson's state of birth, Massachusetts (MA), on the map of the United States.
  3. Dickinson was introverted and reclusive throughout her life.
  4. Dickinson never married and retreated from the rest of the world to regularly stay in her bedroom.
  5. Dickinson did not achieve acclaim for her poetry during her life, publishing less than a dozen poems.
  6. Dickinson's younger sister found hundreds of previously unknown poems after her death, which were eventually published to great acclaim.
  7. Dickinson died of Bright's disease in Amherst, Massachusetts at the age of 55.


Activity 1: Recite Poem Information

Recite the title of the poem and the name of the poet.

Activity 2: Study the Poem Picture

Study the poem picture and describe how it relates to the poem.

Activity 3: Recite the Poem

Practice reciting the poem aloud.

Activity 4: Complete Book Activities   

  • Click the crayon above, and complete pages 20-25 of 'Elementary Poetry 4: Advancing in Poetry.'


  1. 'Emily Dickinson.' Wikipedia. n.p.