Jenny Attiyeh’s ThoughtCast] When Helen Vendler was only 13, the future poetry critic and Harvard professor memorized several of Emily Dickinson’s more famous poems. They’ve stayed with her over the years, and today, she talks with us about one poem in particular that’s haunted her all this time. It’s called I cannot live with You. According to Vendler, whose authoritative Dickinson: Selected Poems and Commentaries (Harvard University Press, 2011) has recently been published, it’s a heartbreaking poem of an unresolvable dilemma, and ensuing despair.

This interview is the first in a new ThoughtCast series which examines a specific piece of writing  be it a poem, play, novel, short story, work of non-fiction or scrap of papyrus that’s had a significant influence on the interviewee, that’s shaped and moved them.