Emily Dickinsons Collected Poems
The Poet Emily Dickinson
Emily Dickinson made a large influence on poetry, she is known as one of America’s most famous poets. With close to two thousand different poems and one thousand of her letters to her friends that survived her death Emily Dickinson showed that she was a truly dedicated writer.
Emily Dickinson was born in Amherst, Massachusetts on December 10,1830 to a prominent family, her father Edward Dickinson was both a lawyer and the Treasurer of Amherst College. Emily’s mother was Emily Norcross Dickinson.
Emily had one older brother, William Austin and a little sister, Lavinia. She was educated at the Amerherst Academy, the institute that her grandfather helped found. She also spent a year at Mount Holyoke Female Seminary in South Hadley, but had left because she did not like the religious environment. For a woman of this time, this much education was very rare.
Emily Dickinson was a very mysterious person as she got older she became more and more reclusive too the point that by her thirties, she would not leave her house and would withdraw from visitors.
Emily was known to give fruit and treats to children by lowering them out her window in a basket with a rope to avoid actually seeing them face to face. She developed a reputation as a myth, because she was almost never seen and when people did catch a glimpse of her she was always wearing white. Emily Dickinson never got married but is thought to have had a relationship with Reverend Charles Wadsworth who she met in the spring of 1854 in Philadelphia.
He was a famous preacher and was married. Many scholars believe that he was the subject of her love poems. Emily probably only saw Wadsworth an additional three times after their first encounter which was only done by him going to Amherst, where she lived. In 1861 Wadsworth moved to San Francisco.
It is after this time that Emily really started to produce hundreds of poems. Emily Dickinson submitted very few poems to publishers. She felt that her poetry was not good enough to be read by everyone. Eight of her poems were published during her life time either by her friends who submitted them to a publisher without her consent or Emily Anonymously. (Emily Dickinson 1996,1) In 1862 she told a friend “If fame belonged to me I could not escape her…My Barefoot-Rank is better.”
It is also thought that Emily Dickinson had a passionate relationship with Susan Gilbert. Emily wrote three times more poems to Susan then to any one else. They probably met at Amherst. They became very close friends, they shared many similar interests and desires. Emily became very affectionate toward Susan and trusted her completely. Their relationship went sour when Susan became engaged to Austin Dickinson, Emily’s brother. For two years their friendship ended completely.
When Austin and Susan moved next door their relationship started over and Emily began to write her love letters to Susan again. Feminist scholars who have examined Emily Dickinson’s letters and poems to Susan from a lesbian viewpoint think that her letters and poems to Susan move beyond a romantic friendship to a blatantly passionate relationship. No one knows how Susan responded to Emily’s love letters and poems. When Emily died all of her letters from Susan were destroyed. So no one will ever know whether they did or did not have a love affair. I think that the mysteries of Emily Dickinson’s life is what makes her poetry so interesting because it can be analyzed in so many different ways.
Emily’s poems and letters to Susan could suggest an eroticism that could be intentional, subconscious, or merely coincidental. Emily may have had perfectly innocent intentions, but to modern audiences translated to be sexually suggestive. (Poetry of Emily Dickinson 1996,2) Other poems that Emily wrote were mostly about the exploration of the concept of religious faith. Her father was a very religious man who practiced a Protestant sect that closely followed the tenets of New England Puritanism, but she was never able to practice his faith with dedication. She was drawn to transcendentalism of Ralph Waldo Emerson, who was one of the leaders of this movement in the belief in the essential unity of creation, the goodness of humanity, and the supremacy of insight over logic and reason. This philosophy also taught a renunciation of authority, whether it be religious, scientific, or political.
These new ideals led her to think a lot more about life and it’s ultimate destiny. The concepts of good and evil, life and death and where you go when you die turned into an obsession with Emily which led her to spent a lot of time worrying about it and writing about it as her life slowly went by instead of enjoying life and living it to its fullest.(Sewell 1963,12) Although her obsession of death seemed to destroy her life, it allowed her to express her true genius through poetry this was the time when she created her greatest works. (Sewell 1963,15)
Emily Dickinson Died at the age of 55 on May 15 1886 in Amherst. Shortly after her death her sister Lavinia discovered hundreds of Poems in a locked chest in Emily’s room in her Amherst home. Lavinia persuaded M.L. Todd to edit Emily’s poems. He published a small portion of the poems in 1890, and his daughter and Emily’s niece followed with more poems later on. But because of a feud in the family, the entire collection of Emily’s poems were not published until 1955. (Olsen1990,91)
Here is an example of a couple of Emily Dickinson’s poems and what critics thought of them and what I think of them. The Chariot Because I could not stop for Death He kindly stopped for me- The Carriage held but just Ourselves- And Immortality. We slowly drove-He knew no haste And I had away My labor and my leisure too, For His Civility- We passed the School, where Children strove At Recess-in the ring- We passed the fields of Gazing Grain- We passed the Setting Sun Or rather- He passed Us- The Dews drew quivering and chill- For only Gossamer, my Gown- My Tippet- only Tulle- We paused before a House that seemed A Swelling of the Ground The Roof was a Scarcely visible- The Cornice-in the Ground- Since then- ’tis Centuries-and yet Feels shorter than the Day I first surmised the Horses’ Heads Were toward Eternity- (Benfey 1986, 83)
The “New Critics who were Allen Tate, R,P. Blackmur and Yvor Winters said this about “The Chariot” “If the word great means anything in poetry, this poem is one of the greatest in the English language. The rhythm charges with movement the pattern of suspended action back of the poem. Every image is precise and, moreover, not merely beautiful, but fused with the central idea. Every image extends and intensifies every other.”(Benfey 1986, 84). I really liked this poem I found her interpretation of death very interesting and that it was very easy for me to create an image of death using her perfectly placed adjectives.
She was very descriptive, but not to the point that you loose focus on the poem. Making the trip to Eternity with a carriage and horse I found to be a very interesting concept. I also liked this poem because it is not too long like other poems that bore me, She gets right to the point and keeps your attention through out the whole poem. Remorse-is Memory-awake- Her Parties all astir- A Presence of Departed Acts- At window-and at door- Its Past-set down before the Soul And lighted with a Match- Perusal-to facilitate- And help Belief to stretch- Remorse is cureless- the Disease Not even God-can heal- For ’tis His institution-and The Adequate of Hell- (Benfey 1986,68) Benfey says about this poem that ” Death is the ultimate mystery for Dickinson; no matter how wise we are, through a riddle at the last,/ Sagacity must go. She can try to ward off the horror with a glib definition: Death is the Suitor/that wins at last, whose stealthy Wooing is pursued by pallid innuendoes. Even when she is wondering about the resurrection she can be witty and playful.” Benfey 1986, 68)
I think that this poem is very deep in meaning and makes me think a lot about the after life. With great poems about death like this it is obvious that Emily Dickinson Spent a lot of time focusing on the concepts of death, Religion and the after life. She in this poem interprets the Resurrection in a different way. I think that she is saying that Death is inevitable in this life as we know it and that even Jesus could not cheat death even though he was able to come back to Earth in a new body. He still had to die like all humans and creatures to reach life after death. “Wild Nights-Wild Nights” Where I with thee Wild Nights should be Our luxury! Futile-the Winds- To a Heart in port- Done with the Compass- Done with the Chart! Rowing in Eden- Ah, the Sea! Might I but moor- Tonight- In thee! Her breast is fit for pearls, But I was not a Diver- Her brow is fit for thrones But I have not a crest. Her heart is fit for home- I- a sparrow- build there II- Sweet twigs and twine III- My perennial nest. Her sweet weight on my Heart a Night Had scarcely deigned to lie- When, stirring, for Beliefs delight, My bride had slipped away- If ’twas a Dream- made solid – just The Heaven to confirm- Or if Myself were dreamed of Her- The power to presume- With Him remain- who unto Me- Gave- even as to All- A fiction superseding Faith- By so much-as ’twas real- (Poetry of Emily Dickinson 1996,3)
Benfey says that this poem is ” elegant and has a mild eroticism that reaches the level of great art in Emily Dickinson’s poetry”(Benfey 1986,62) Feminist Scholars looking at this poem from a lesbian point of view feel that Emily Dickinson had a passionately intimate relationship with Susan which is who she wrote the poem to and that Emily depended on Susan’s love.(poetry of Emily Dickinson 1996,2) I do not agree with the Feminist Scholars, I don’t think that this poem is sexual or passionate toward Susan. I think that back when Emily Dickinson was writing her poetry people were a lot more open with their feelings and were not afraid to express them although I do think that Emily had a very strong love for Susan. This is a great poem because it shows the sensitive loving side of Emily’s poetry, instead of the depressing gloom of death and worrying about it. I think that this poem has been misinterpreted to mean something passionate and sexual. Now a days it seems that people are always trying to find something sexual in everything.
Emily Dickinson’s Reflection of God
A discussion of Emily Dickinson’s view of God in the poem “I Shall Know Why-When Time Is Over”.
Emily Dickinson had a view of God and His power that was very strange for a person of her time. Dickinson questioned God, His power, and the people in the society around her. She did not believe in going to church because she felt as though she couldn’t find any answers there. She asked God questions through writing poems, and believed that she had to wait until she died to find out the answers.
Dickinson was ahead of her time with beliefs like this. Many people in her generation just believed in God, went to church, and looked highly on the events discussed during church out of fear. These people were hesitant to ask questions, afraid of God, and scared of Dickinson because she started to inquire about things that only God was capable of answering.
In Dickinson’s poem, “I Shall Know Why-When Time Is Over”, she is describing her feelings toward God.
It appears as though she is angry with Him because she cannot get any answers to her questions. Emily Dickinson feels, that the answers to these questions will only come with death. ” I shall know why-when time is over- And I have ceased to wonder why- Christ will explain each separate anguish In the fair schoolroom of the sky- (78)”. After she dies and God answers all of her questions, Dickinson then says: ” I shall forget the drop of anguish That scalds me now-that scalds me now!” This shows Dickinson’s anger toward God.
She does not want to have to die to have her questions answered. She wants to be able to live without these questions of what God wants, because they are deeply affecting her. As time goes by, one could say that Dickinson is learning to live with the questions she has for God. She does not look at death as a bad thing, she starts to look at it in a positive way. She slowly starts to seclude herself from others, which is apparent in her poems. Dickinson starts to discuss her state of solitude and how it came about. This is described in, “The Soul Selects Her Own Society”. Dickinson says that: ” The souls selects her own society- then shuts the door- To her divine majority- Present no more-(80).” At this point in her life, Dickinson no longer wants to be a serious part of any society. Also read luma reflection paper
By secluding herself from people and writing poetry and letters only to those close to her, she could question anything without being noted as a skeptic by people within the society. Due to her beliefs, many thought that Dickinson contributed to blasphemy, simply because she questioned God and authority. However, in all actuality, Emily Dickinson was a loving and loyal woman with a lot of unanswered questions. It was as though God has complete power over Dickinson, and this was her way to praise God-by total seclusion. Instead of going to church, she stays at home and worshiped God, whenever she wanted.. In “Much Madness”, Dickinson describes societies attitudes toward her: ” Much madness is divinest sense- To a discerning eye- Much sense-the starkest madness- `Tis the majority-(84)”. In Dickinson’s so called “Madness” there is a Godlike presence that only she recognizes. While everybody else thinks she is insane, she knows that she is not, and God knows this as well. ” In this, as all, prevail- Assent-and you are sane- Demor-you’re straightaway dangerous- And handled with a chain-(85)”. She is describing what kind of people there are in society: those who conform to what they are supposed to do and believe, yet in all essence, they really do not understand what they are doing or believing, and those people who rebel from what is normal and explore their surroundings, asking things that others dare to ask. If they rebel, people will think their insane, and that will put a label on them, causing people to become frightened when near them.
As society makes Dickinson feel out of place she starts to realize the importance of God and who He really is. This is important because God and death are now becoming a more critical part of her life. Dickinson starts to dwell on death and when it will come to her. She describes how she thinks death will come to her and how God will greet her in the poem, “Because I Could Not Stop for Death”. She imagines death coming in a carriage and taking her off to a happy place of “immortality”. ” Because I could not stop for death- He kindly stopped for me- The carriage held but just ourselves- And Immortality.” This shows that Dickinson has realized the importance of God in her life, whereas in previous poems she did not.
Dickinson then goes on to describe the passing of the carriage over fields and the sun, on her way to an everlasting happiness in heaven.
In conclusion, Emily Dickinson had a view of God that revolved around questioning His power. However, as she grew she started to realize how much power God actually has over a person and their life. Dickinson lived to serve and please God. She did this by simply believing in Him and in what He could do. She did not need to go to church, become a nun, or profess her faith externally to be a true believer. Emily Dickinson showed her love and faith in God through her strenuous thought and questioning, and with her belief that God is always there when you
Emily Dickinson’s View of Death and the Afterlife
Emily Dickinson has been known to write poems expressing grief and pain while portraying Death in varied ways. However, if we read her poems about Death and Pain, we see that there are commonalities between her works. Emily Dickinson sees Death as something that is both final and yet a gateway to infinity. This finality is expressed as the inevitable ending all of us must go through. And yet, the perpetuity of life never ends in a death of a loved one.
Likewise, her poems carry a message of the afterlife which is the new beginning for those who died. Death is seen as being final.
There is no resurrection or reincarnation. There is only death at the end. In her poems however, Dickinson describes this ending as something that is both highly significant and mundane. At first, this seems contradictory. But what Emily Dickinson is trying to say is that death is something that will have a huge impact for everyone and yet because it happens to all of us, it is ordinary and a part of life.
There is something momentous about death and the impact it has on people. Emily expresses this in her poem, “My Life Closed Twice Before Its Close. Here, she describes the death of two of her loved ones even before she dies. She describes these experiences of death as being “so huge, so hopeless to conceive. ” Experiencing the death of those close to you seems so insurmountable that it is portrayed as inconceivable. There is finality in this line. There is a tone of powerlessness to continue on with life because death came and it was too much to bear. In the same poem, we note that Emily Dickinson does not say that there is no life after death. Yet, we see that she describes death as closure.
The line “my life closed twice before its close” defines death as life’s close or life’s end. And even a death of a loved one is described as such because the tragedy that comes with death is too unbearable that it seems like an end to living. However, in some poems, Emily Dickinson describes death’s finality as something trivial and banal. This does not undermine the huge impact of death as life’s ultimate end. On the contrary, it strengthens the point that death will come whether we like it or not because it is a part of life.
In her poem, “after great pain, a formal feeling comes,” she describes death as something that comes after pain. In her words, the events leading to death are “First — Chill — then Stupor — then the letting go. ” We see that pain will come in the form of Chill, then a sort of inactivity in Stupor and as Death comes, there remains only the act of letting go. There is no dramatic portrayal of death here. Death is something commonplace and all we do is to let go. In “I Heard A Fly Buzz When I Died,” this sense of simplicity in death is seen in how the person dying is describing his last moments. I heard a fly buzz when I died; The stillness round my form; Was like the stillness in the air; Between the heaves of storm. ” In the first four lines, we see how emotionless the persona is as he describes his death. It is not a stirring event that is unfolding but rather, he is describing how still he has become. There is nothing but stillness in death that even a fly buzzing is heard. There is nothing left to say or show in death because death is still and quiet and a simple rite of passage. If we compare the anguish in “My Life Closed Twice Before She Dies,” it seems that there are two kinds of death.
Read also: Rite of Passage Examples
However, if we look at it more closely, we see that death may be experienced as something with huge impact or something that is a part of life no different from other experiences. Irregardless, Emily Dickinson has shown how death is an ultimate ending to life and that we all go through it. There is a dual nature to Death. Death is not only the final event in one’s life. It is also the beginning of eternal existence in the afterlife for the one who died. Likewise, the experience of death of another person is momentary and does not stop life from unfolding.
This is Emily Dickinson’s second view of Death. She shows her idea of an afterlife in a lot of her poems. For example, in “My Life Closed Twice Before Its Close”, she ends the poem describing Heaven and Hell. In the line “parting is all we know of heaven; and all we need of hell,” she gives us a summary of her views of the afterlife. She uses parting to describe death in the first line. She says that the only thing we truly know of parting (or death) is that it is our way into heaven. There is a light tone to her words giving a sense of purpose to death as a gateway to heaven.
However, parting is then used literally in the next line. Her concept of hell is so gruesome that the only way she describes it is that we need to part from it. We see that her use of the word ‘need’ points to how much she detests the idea of being in hell after death. The use of ‘parting’ to describe how to get to heaven and how to get out of hell is clear and gives us her views of the opposite nature of the afterlife. Emily Dickinson also describes death as something that is unable to stop the flow of life.
This is especially seen in how she narrates her poem, “I Heard A Fly Buzz When I Died. ” Here, we see the image of a fly hovering somewhere near the dying person. This happens at the beginning of the poem. However, if we go on further, we see that this is also how the poem ends – with a person dead and the fly hovering nonchalantly. “…and then; There interposed a fly,; With blue, uncertain, stumbling buzz,; Between the light and me; And then the windows failed, and then; I could not see to see. ” The image of a fly is not random. It represents the things that are seen in everyday life.
More so, it can be interpreted as ‘everyday life’. And just as there is the daily lifestyle we are accustomed to before tragedies happen, we will also go on living after tragedies the same way the fly buzzes around after the death. And in “after great pain, a formal feeling comes,” Emily Dickinson describes the dead as being “remembered, if outlived. ” This suggests that although death happens as the final event for everyone, those who outlive us will remember us. And in this way, continuity is experienced even in the midst of death.
Poetry Analysis – I Took my Power in my Hand by Emily Dickinson
I Took my Power in my Hand
by Emily Dickinson
I took my Power in my Hand-
And went against the World-
‘Twas not so much as David-had-
But I-was twice as bold-
I aimed my Pebble-but myself
Was all the one that fell-
Was it Goliath-was too large-
Or was myself-too small?
At first glance, “I Took my Power in my Hand” seems like a short, simple poem. However, the poem actually conveys the poet’s puzzlement about a failure.
In the first stanza, the poet reflects on her actions. This reflection serves to let the reader know that the poet did something against a greater power, something like a David vs. Goliath, but with an even more diminutive hero(ine) against an even more incredible giant. Perhaps her Goliath is a law that she opposes or a corporation she feels is corrupt.
Regardless of the “enemy,” the allusion to David and Goliath serves to show that the poet is clearly undertaking a difficult task.
The second stanza expresses the poet’s bemusement at her failure, despite the difficulty of the task. She says that she clearly aimed her “pebble,” as David had against Goliath, but she was the one that fell. The reader can see that the poet cannot comprehend her failure. Finally, she concludes that there are two possibilities for her failure. Either her Goliath, or goal, was quixotic, or she was just not strong enough.
Throughout the poem, the poet uses unorthodox punctuation and capitalization to help communicate her confusion. Liberal usage of dashes is the most noticeable deviation from standard punctuation. The poet does this to show her discontinuous thinking. The dashes force the reader to stop, mimicking the pauses in the poet’s reflections. In addition to the punctuation, the poet capitalizes “Power,” “Hand,” “World,” and “Pebble,” words that normally would not be capitalized.
“Power” and “Hand” are capitalized to show how much stock the poet puts in her personal strength and ability. Because she is used to this strength and skill, she is all the more bewildered when she fails in conquering her Goliath. “World” is capitalized because this is the poet’s Goliath, or undertaking. “Pebble” is capitalized because it is a symbol. Just as “World” symbolizes the poet’s task, the “Pebble” represents the poet’s solution to the problem. The poet is confused because David slew Goliath with a pebble, but her “Pebble” didn’t slay her Goliath. Although she did what she was “supposed to do,” she wasn’t able to accomplish her goal.
“I Took my Power in my Hand” is a poem about a poet accustomed to succeeding with her own strength and ability. However, she goes against the “World” and fails, even though she follows David’s example, doing everything she could and should do.
How Happy is the Little Stone
by Emily Dickinson
How happy is the little stone
That rambles in the road alone,
And doesn’t care about careers,
And exigencies never fears;
Whose coat of elemental brown
A passing universe put on;
And independent as the sun,
Associates or glows alone,
Fulfilling absolute decree
In casual simplicity.
“How Happy is the Little Stone” is a poem that conveys its theme in its structure. The poem is one stanza written in couplets, which for the most part, rhyme. This simple structure complements the message of happiness in simplicity and independence. The one couplet that doesn’t rhyme is the second to last one. However, this break in format is for a good reason. In this couplet, the poet talks about being independent and “glow[ing] alone.” She really wants to express the idea that happiness lies in simplicity and independence, using a stone as a paragon of simplicity. It doesn’t care about it’s future in a career, it lets the “passing universe” color it brown, and it independently fulfills the absolute decree of living.
Basically, the stone goes on existing, not really affecting or getting affected by anything. I think the poet’s message is for the readers to live like the stone, living life independently and simply to enjoy it, rather than living life worrying about a career, exigencies, and what other people think. Considering this message, perhaps Emily Dickinson’s Goliath in “I Took my Power in my Hand” was to live life like the little stone in this poem.
Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson
Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson are two illustrious and significant 19th century poets. The analysis of two poems, “Of Him I Love Day and Night”, by Whitman and “A Death-Blow is a Life-Blow to Some”, by Dickinson, portray that despite Whitman’s free verse and Dickinson’s rhyme and meter the poems still convey similar messages concerning the eternal cycle that exists between death, body, and soul.
The writing style of these two poets could not be more different. The differences originate from their unique personalities and lifestyles.
Dickinson lived most of her life in seclusion, shy and timid, reluctant to publish her work. Whitman was a traveler, friendly and gregarious, who expected his work to have a lasting impression on its readers. Dickinson’s short poetic lines, condensed through intense metaphors and the use of ellipsis (the emission of words understood to be there), contrast sharply with Whitman’s long lines, little rhyme, and irregular rhythm. Poet, John Malcolm Brinnin, stated that, “Whitman and Dickinson represent two distinct seams in the fabric of American poetry, one slightly uneven and the other carefully measured and stitched tight.
” Whitman, the one “slightly uneven,” was often over-elaborative and careless. Whitman frequently contradicted himself in his attempt to describe everything in sight. Whitman’s style of writing was known as free verse, which is poetry without rhyme or meter.
This style of poetry was fitting since Whitman spoke for the average man, and this poetry was the kind that an average person would write. Dickinson, on the other hand, was the poet “carefully measured and stitched tight.” She was very particular with her choice of words and sought the phrase that would best fix an image in the mind. In contrast, Whitman’s “Of Him I Love Day and Night” is replete with repetition and the cadences of free verse, which perfectly reflects Whitman’s style of poetry. For example, Whitman uses the phrase, “I dream’d I”, in four instances and repeats the phrase, “I shall be satisfied”, three times. His unconventional style was revolutionary to the extent that it was the first effort to break away from the typical rhyme and meter of poetry. Meanwhile, “A Death-Blow is a Life-Blow to Some” is a concise, rhyming, insightful poem representing Dickinson’s style of poetry. This particular poem is four lines long and flows rhythmically. The rhyme and meter in Dickinson’s poems is portrayed clearly in the first two lines,
“A death-blow is a life-blow to some
Who, till they died, did not alive become.”
Dickinson wrote poetry for herself rather than others and tended to regard poems as experiences, not as statements like Whitman. This affects the style of poetry of Whitman and Dickinson to a degree. Whitman in writing poetry was writing for all of America as a spokesman of the people, where as Dickinson didn’t want her work judged by others and wished to keep her poetry to herself. These two poems have very few similarities in terms of style and structure typical of most of Whitman and Dickinson’s poetry. Read How PPE May Become Unsuitable for Use and the Actions to Take if This Happens
The poems of Whitman and Dickinson incorporate similar ideas concerning the endless cycle and death. Whitman’s “Of Him I Love Day and Night” is about the eternal cycle of life. Whitman dreamt that a friend of his died and that he went to his burial place but did not find him there. This is because he found that “every place was a burial-place; the houses full of life were equally full of death.” Whitman is trying to convey that life doesn’t end after death. He states that life and death exist everywhere and there is an endless cycle between death, body, and soul. The concept of oversoul found in Whitman’s poem asserts that everything is connected and there is life after death. “A Death-Blow is a Life-Blow to Some” is quite similar to the extent that it also discusses the eternal cycle and the afterlife. Dickinson claims that death can bring a new energy to some. This is expressed in the line, “Who, till they died did not alive become”. This is very similar to Whitman’s poem in the sense that they both believe in a connection between life and death and that death brings new life. To Whitman and Dickinson death is not a gloomy demise but a pleasant and satisfying experience. Whitman expresses this feeling towards the end of his poem when he states that “if the corpse of any one I love, or if my own corpse, be duly render’d to powder, and pour’d in the sea, I shall be satisfied.” Whitman and Dickinson’s poetry express many similar ideas and beliefs as reflected in “Of Him I Love Day and Night” and “A Death-Blow is a Life-Blow to Some.” Also read alcolm X message to the grassroots analysis
The unique personalities and lifestyles of Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson contribute to very different styles of poetry. Dickinson wrote very meticulously and her stanzas are controlled by rhyme and meter, where as Whitman was elaborative and developed a style of poetry called free verse. However, despite differences in style and structure the poems of Whitman and Dickinson reflect the similar message of the eternal cycle and the connection between death, body, and soul, which is illustrated beautifully by “Of Him I Love Day and Night” and “A Death-Blow is a Life-Blow to Some.”
All Good Things Must Come to an End
The amazing thing about literature is that it can be interrupted differently by each person who reads it. Which means that while one piece of writing is amazing, creative, and witty to one person to another person it could be the most boring, uninteresting, and redundant piece of literature they have ever read. In this semester of Literature 221, I was given the opportunity to read works from many different genres, time periods, and styles of writing. Some of which, like Emily Dickinson’s Life I and Life XLIII, Joyce Carol Oates’ Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?, and Sherman Alexie’s What You Pawn I Will Redeem I thoroughly enjoyed and learned from.
While others such as Ernest Hemingway’s Big Two-Hearted River, Mark Twain’s excerpt When The Buffalo Climbed a Tree from Roughing It, and the excerpt from Sula by Toni Morrison weren’t exactly my cup of tea.
Emily Dickinson is a remarkable poet who often writes from a very emotional and self-examining perspective.
This is why I really enjoyed the two selections of her work we had to read this semester. In her first poem Life I, the very first two lines make you stop and think, “I’M nobody! Who are you? Are you nobody, too?” (Dickinson 2) Bam! I was hit in the face with self-reflection. Am I somebody? Or am I a nobody? Emily Dickinson continues by saying “how dreary to be somebody!” (Dickinson2 ) as if to be somebody is a bad thing. I love that Emily Dickinson questions the ideology of having to be surrounded by people and having to constantly be in a spotlight. Every move that you make is questioned and examined by people.
Instead of being able to live for yourself and for your own happiness you are forced to live by the way society sees you. It made me see that maybe it truly is better to be a happy, content nobody. In her poem Life XLIII, Dickinson again made me pause and self-reflect but this time on the beauty of the human mind and it’s capabilities. In this poem she states that the brain is “wider than the sky”, “deeper than the sea”, and “is just the weight of God” (Dickinson 3). The sky, the sea, and God. Three powerful, endless, and even omnipotent to the human eye and yet the brain is more than that because it has the capability to imagine all of it. You can hold images of God, the sea, and God all in your mind. Dickson wrote these poems with such beautiful imagery that really does make a reader stop and think. This is why her works are among my favorite reads from this semester.
Joyce Carol Oates brought a real life serial killer to life in her tale Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? Based off the actual murders of Charles Howard Schmid Jr., Oates tells the story of Arnold Friend and a young girl named Connie and the events that would eventually lead up to Connie’s murder. I loved this tale because Oates gave a real voice to the real life victims of Schmid. While an article by the Daily News stated that, “Despite his creepiness, ladies loved Smitty” (citation here news article) in Oates’ tale it was made evident that Connie wanted nothing to do with Friend and instead she tried to call the cops and even told him to “Get the hell out of here!” (Oates 340) When I read a tragic news article I will feel sorrow for the victim and their families for a moment and then go on with my life and forget about them.
Yet when I read a piece of work that captures my soul and really moves me to feel emotionally about a character as if they were a real person, I can recall them for years afterwards. Oates’ made me feel for Connie because she gave her a background of a beautiful girl with a mother who disapproved of all she did and constantly compared her to her more homely sister, June. “Why don’t you keep your room clean like your sister? How’ve you got your hair ?xed—what the hell stinks? Hair spray? You don’t see your sister using that junk.” (Oates 333) A girl that may have been desperate for love and attention. Suddenly, in my mind, Oates’ has not only weaved a haunting tale of young, naive girl who made mistakes and talked to the wrong stranger on the wrong day but she also made me feel for the real life victims of Schmid. Suddenly they became more than just names on a page and their names, Alleen Rowe, Gretchen and Wendy Fritz, will forever be in my mind and probably countless others who have read her work and know who it was based on. While Oates’ is a talented writer and her words were beautifully written the reason her piece stands out as one of my favorites of this semester were for the deeper meaning and the legacy she left for the victims of a cruel, sick, twisted man.
A reader cannot help but root for a character who has redeemable qualities despite whatever odd, crude, or socially unacceptable behavior they may exhibit. Such is the case in my final favorite piece of writing from this semester, Sherman Alexie’s What You Pawn I Will Redeem. In this tale of a homeless, alcoholic, money floundering Spokane, Washington Native American Indian named Jackson Jackson, a reader cannot help but fall in love with his spirit of never-ending generosity and unbreakable ties with tradition and family. Alexie’s particular style of writing gave light to Jackson’s seemingly uncaring, lazy, and unapologetically unmotivated he attitude in a way that a reader cannot help but find just a little bit comical. It is written in first person from the rambling mind of Jackson and lines such as “Piece by piece, I disappeared. And I’ve been disappearing ever since. But I’m not going to tell you any more about my brain or my soul” (citation here page 401) made me laugh out lou01d at the standoffish behavior of this character. Jackson was unable to maintain a job, any of his marriages, or his relationships with his children. In fact, the only thing he did seem capable of maintaining was a constant drunken stupor throughout the entire tale.
Yet when he came upon his Grandmother’s stolen regalia at a local pawn shop he was determined to find a way to raise the $999 needed to rebuy this long lost family heirloom and return it to its rightful place. Each time he managed to earn or was gifted money for his mission he could not help but immediately spend it. However he was never selfish with his spending. He made sure that whatever he was given he shared with his fellow Indian. Never even coming close to making the necessary money to buy it make but still I found myself cheering him on. Because of his generosity, I was rooting for him to find a way to purchase back that precious connection to his family. And in the end, despite never actually managing to acquire the necessary cash, the pawn owner returned the regalia to Jackson, and I inwardly rejoicing in his success. And Alexie captured the moral for me in this thought, “Do you know how many good men live in this world? Too many to count!” (Alexie 415) Alexie challenged the stereotypes of a good person because he showed that even a drunken person who is unsuccessful in every societal standard can be a good person because he is a kind, generous soul. This is the reason why this is another of my favorites from this semester’s readings.
When thinking of a literary legend a name like Ernest Hemingway often comes to mind, yet in this semester’s reading of Big Two-Hearted River, Mr. Hemingway missed the mark for me. While I appreciate the concept of a post-war soldier suffering from PTSD, I had a hard time really getting into this piece. Hemingway’s commonly used iceberg principle style of writing was apparent in this piece with its overall lack of a substantial plot and its seemingly never-ending descriptions of just about everything. It is just not a style that appealed to me as a reader. I found it boring and extremely long. The symbolism was often obscured by the unnecessary descriptions of the surrounding scenery. “On the left, where the meadow ended and the woods began, a great elm tree was uprooted. Gone over in a storm, it lay back into the woods, its roots clotted with dirt, grass growing in them, rising a solid bank beside the stream. The river cut to the edge of the uprooted tree.” (Hemingway 262) It just seemed excessive and unneeded to me.
While this is definitely one of my least favorite of this semester’s readings, I have to say that Hemingway was a beautiful wordsmith who could make you feel as though you were part of the story. In this sentence, “He sat on the logs, smoking, drying in the sun, the sun warm on his back, the river shallow ahead entering the woods, curving into the woods, shallows, light glittering, big water-smooth rocks, cedars along the bank and white birches, the logs warm in the sun, smooth to sit on, without bark, gray to the touch; slowly the feeling of disappointment left him” (Hemingway 262) you can practically feel the heat of the sun on your back and the relief that Nick feels as if a burden was lifted from your own chest. This story had some beautiful imagery overall though it was just not a tale I enjoyed reading.
Mark Twain is an inspirational writer with amazing talent and has written some remarkable classics. However, the excerpt from Roughing It When the Buffalo Climbed a Tree, will not be joining my list of his beloved masterpieces. Instead I found this fictional account tedious to read and found myself drifting off to sleep while at the same time trying to understand the particular vernacular used in this piece. The narrator of the majority of this tale was a character named Bemis whose style of speech was rambling and over-the-top. For example, “Well, I was first out on his neck – the horse’s, not the bull’s—and then underneath, and next on his rump, and sometimes head up, and sometimes heels—but I tell you it seemed solemn and awful to be ripping and tearing and carrying on so in the presence of death, as you might say.” (Twain 16)
I can just imagine Bemis being this rambling, fool telling this ridiculous story with no ending in sight. It was just exhausting and mindless drivel that did not succeed in making me think about anything substantial or self-reflect which are qualities I rather enjoy when reading. I understand that according to Mark Twain, “to string incongruities and absurdities together in a wandering and sometimes purposeless way, and seem innocently unaware that they absurdities, is the basis of American art…” (Twain 13) and he accomplished that task beautifully. Nevertheless, it is just not a style that appealed to me and I struggled to enjoy reading this story.
This semester was my first time reading any of Toni Morrison’s works. The excerpt from Sula was all of over the map for me. I had a hard time deciphering any real plot. It started off with two 12 years old girls walking through town and getting objectified by the men in the town. And if it wasn’t bad enough that two young girls were being gawked at by grown men, the girls actually seemed to enjoy it. “So, when he said “pig meat” as Nel and Sula passed, they guarded their eyes lest someone see their delight.” (Morrison 346) That line made my skin crawl with utter disgust. Then suddenly the girls are playing near a lake when a young boy named Chicken Little ends up drowning before their very eyes and their only reaction was “Nel spoke ?rst. ‘Somebody saw.’” (Morrison 351) I had a hard time reading a story about such loss of innocence at such a young age. Morrison’s writing was beautiful and captivating. The only reason this makes my least favorites list from this semester was I just genuinely felt sick the entire I was reading it. Completely horrified by these young girls lives and saddened by the fact that many girls’ lives of this time period were like this.
This semester of Literature 221 was full of amazing pieces of writing. Tales that completely delighted, inspired, and captured my heart like those from Emily Dickinson, Joyce Carol Oates, and Sherman Alexie. As well as others who, for me, just did none of those things such as those from Ernest Hemingway, Mark Twain, and Toni Morrison. Overall I really enjoyed this class. I felt as though most of the forums gave me the opportunity to share my thoughts on each piece as well as opened my eyes to different perspectives. If I could give any constructive criticism it would be that sometimes I felt as if I could not quite meet expectations in the essay requirements because I felt as though they were not clearly stated. Other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed this class and I feel as though I learned a lot. It definitely has made me look forward to taking other literature classes in the future.
Alexie, Sherman. “What You Pawn I Will Redeem” American Literature Since the Civil War. Create edition. McGraw-Hill, 2011. 401-415. e-Book. Works Cited Dickinson, Emily. “Life I & XLIII American Literature Since the Civil War. Create edition. McGraw-Hill, 2011. 2-3. e-Book. Hemingway, Ernest. “Big Two Hearted River.” American Literature Since the Civil War. Create edition. McGraw-Hill, 2011. 253-264. E-book. Morrison, Toni. “From Sula.” American Literature Since the Civil War. Create edition. McGraw-Hill, 2011. 346-354. e-Book. Oates, Joyce Carol. “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” American Literature Since the Civil War. Create edition. McGraw-Hill, 2011. 333-344. e-Book. Twain, Mark. “From Roughing It. When The Buffalo Climbed a Tree.” American Literature Since the Civil War. Create edition. McGraw-Hill, 2011. 16-18. e-Book. Twain, Mark. “How To Tell a Story” American Literature Since the Civil War. Create edition. McGraw-Hill, 2011. 12-15. e-Book.
Emily Dickinson’s “A Certain Slant of Light” Analysis Essay
In her poem, There’s a certain Slant of light, Emily Dickinson uses metaphors and imagery to convey the feeling of solemnity and despair at winter’s twilight. The slanted light that she sees, is a metaphor for her battle with depression. Anyone who is familiar with Dickinson’s background will have a better understanding of what she is trying to say in this poem. Dickinson was known as a recluse and spent most of her life isolated from the outside world.
The few people that she did come in contact with over the years are said to have had a major impact on her poetry. Although, her main muse of her work seems to be despair and internal conflict.
What’s interesting about the poem is that Dickinson uses metaphors to describe depression, as well as religion. It is clear that the poet intends to highlight the light in the afternoon with its heaviness and solemnity. The time of year that the poet is describing is winter, while the time of day is twilight, or the afternoon, as said in the poem.
Often times, and how I’ve interpreted it, the season, plus the time of day can be considered a metaphor for death. In Dickinson’s, There’s a certain Slant of light, she used a metered rhyming scheme that follows the pattern of ABCB. Since the poem uses rhyming, it’s closed form. There are four stanzas that almost have a hymn-like rhythm. It’s unclear if that was intentional or not due the religious metaphors within the stanzas.
Dickinson used trochaic and iambic meters through out the poem. She also used stressed and unstressed syllables. The opening line of the poem, states the title and at the same time, introduces what the poem is essentially about. The poet goes on to say that the winter light, which slants in through the windows, weighs upon the speakers soul like “the Heft of Cathedral tunes.” Organs, with their multiple pipes, strike ears and fill Cathedrals with a sound that often leaves you with a feeling of unwelcome solemnity and grandiosity. This can leave listeners with an overwhelming feeling that lays heavy in their being.
The image of winter, as well as the organ music, adds gloom to the poem. There’s a sense of anguish that the speaker is feeling and you believe that a certain slant of light might connote hope, but not even sunshine on a winter afternoon could bring happiness into the speaker’s life. Winter itself is a symbol of death and decay, opposed to summer, which is characterized by sunshine and joy. Like the Cathedral tunes, the light reminds her of desolation. The feeling of despair is transported into an auditory feeling, which is where the organs come in. The word “heft” has two meanings, weight and significance. It can refer to the cathedral tunes, and also the speaker being weighed down by despair.
In the second stanza, the light oppresses her soul; it gives her a “Heavenly Hurt.” The experience of slanted light is a metaphor for ideas and how it feels to experience depression. This kind of heavenly hurt leaves no scar behind, but it creates an internal difference that brings a change in demeanor. The phrase “Heavenly Hurt” brings together a feeling of elation and the reality of what the speaker is feeling. The alliteration of this phrase is used as an emphasis.
In the third stanza, the first two lines are, “None may teach it – Any – ‘Tis the Seal Despair -” This is saying that no one is able to teach us what death feels like. We can prepare for it, in the sense of what we believe will come after, but the actual physical and mental feeling is unknown. Death is very unpredictable in the way that we don’t know how our lives will end, but it’s on everyone’s mind. In the line, An imperial affliction, Sent us of the Air – (11-12) the speaker has made a connection with the winter light, the “Heavenly Hurt”, and the feeling of internal difference and despair. In Dickinson’s poem, an imperial affliction is a metaphor for an all-encompassing despair that comes from the air. Whenever we have a strong emotion, like happiness, we tend to see the world around us in a brighter light and over all it makes us feel joyful. If we’re feeling down, like the speaker of this poem, we see the world as how we feel inside; things look unpleasant, and grey and dismal. We’re unable to see a ray of hope that is coming through the window in the form of sunshine.
In the fourth stanza, when death, or “it” as the speaker calls it, comes everything listens. When someone dies, those still on this earth sometimes experience stillness in nature, as if the world is on hold and listening to us. In Dickinson’s poem the stillness comes from the slant of light, and the landscape and shadows listen and figuratively hold their breath. The landscape and shadows are personified in this stanza. The capitalization of “Landscape” and “Shadows” gives the impression that the speaker is referring to someone she knows. The mood here changes quite a bit compared to the first three stanzas of this poem. You get a sense of anticipation instead of despair, and the oppression that the speaker has felt has lifted and now she’s feeling light and maybe some what alluring. In the final two lines of the poem, the poet uses sort of a morbid imagery.
“When it goes, ‘tis like the Distance, On the look of Death.” (15-16) Dead people have a distant look to them since the life in their being is gone somewhere else. We also see the exit of winter light at the end of the day in the same distant way we might see some deaths. Death is mysterious to those on earth, just as the sunset in the heart of winter is. The day is blanketed in shadows due to the sun’s proximity to earth during this season, and as it sets, it’s a gradual process, that sometimes leaves the world at a standstill, much like death. The dash at the end serves as emphasis that a period wouldn’t leave behind. As readers, we’re left with no definitive answers in regards to the light or the speaker’s internal despair. Dickinson almost made this intentional in a way that the reader might feel an equal despair or oppression at the outcome of the poem, or the “light” might leave us with a feeling of enlightenment and hope.
At the end of this poem, we’re left with a feeling of despair, that Dickinson almost made intentional in order for the reader to better understand how the speaker feels as the light breaks through the windows on winter afternoons. Emily Dickinson’s use of imagery and metaphors highlights her battle with depression and isolation.
There’s a certain Slant of light (about 1861)
There’s a certain Slant of light,
Winter Afternoons –
That oppresses, like the Heft
Of Cathedral Tunes –
Heavenly Hurt, it gives us –
We can find no scar,
But internal Difference,
Where the Meanings, are –
None may teach it – Any –
‘Tis the Seal Dispair –
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the Air –
When it comes, the Landscape listens –
Shadows – hold their breath –
When it goes, ‘tis like the Distance
On the look of Death –
Works Cited Page
Kennedy, X. J.. An introduction to poetry. Boston: Little, Brown, 1966. Print.
Religion and spirituality can affect different people’s lifestyles in different ways. In the case of Emily Dickinson, her religion affected her writing. Emily Dickinson seemed to have written her poems based by religious influence; the poems “Some Keep the Sabbath going to Church” and “Because I could not stop for Death” are both examples of how religion influenced her poetry. Emily Dickinson did not at all have a sort of a rough upbringing or childhood, as it was in fact, very pleasant for the most part.
She was born on December 10th 1830 in Amherst, Massachusetts. The town she had grown up in, coincidentally, was noted as a center of education, based on the Amherst College. Her family was very well-known in the community, so her childhood home was often used as a meeting place for visitors. In school, Emily was known for being a very intelligent student, and could create original rhyming stories to entertain her other classmates. She loved to read, and was extremely conscientious about her work (Tejvan par.
2-4). However, Emily Dickinson’s father was extremely strict. He was determined to bring up his children in an extremely proper way, causing his daughter to both hate and love him at the same time. He would censor the types of books allowed in the house; any books that were found to be too inappropriate would have to be smuggled in the house without his knowing. Emily described it as “his heart was pure and terrible” (Tejvan par. 4). Because of these actions, Emily was extremely respectful to both her father and other older male figures. However, she still loved her father in every way she could, and wished to be the best daughter she could ever possibly be (Tejvan par. 2-4). After her childhood, Emily Dickinson lived isolated from the world for the remainder of her life. Despite her remote lifestyle, Dickinson still actively read and still communicated with people with whom she felt the need to keep in contact. Her brother moved in next door to her after attending law school and marrying his wife. Her younger sister followed Emily’s example and also lived in almost complete isolation at her home. Her siblings and brother’s spouse acted as both family and companions during Dickinson’s lifetime (“Emily Dickinson – Poets.org” par. 2).
At the time of Dickinson’s life, there was a “revival of evangelical Christianity” (Tejvan par. 2). Because of this, she would rarely refuse to tell people she was Christian, making her religious views hard to explain. However, Emily Dickinson defined herself as a pagan, and her religious views had a very strong influence on her poetry. As a Calvinist, Dickinson was brought up to believe that men were undoubtedly sinful and that most of humanity was doomed to hell. A small portion of humans would be saved, however, and throughout her life, there was an increasing pressure for Emily Dickinson to announce herself as the saved. Regardless, she never deemed herself saved, causing her to be seen as an outcast from the rest of her peers (Tejvan par. 2-5). At a first look at her poems, it would seem that she was an atheist, or just has a “lack of spiritual inclination” (Sumangali par. 2). Dickinson did not pay much attention, or was not able to grasp religious doctrine such as original sin. Emily Dickinson did attend church regularly, and the sermons she attended influenced her poetry. While she did not have identical beliefs to those surrounding her, Dickinson had a faith in her own spirituality, making her seem to have more knowledge of God than the people around her. She did not claim to fully understand God, or to have faith in all of His ways. Nonetheless, she did not fear God, or fear being sent to Hell (Sumangali par. 1-10). Therefore, she was not as religious-obsessed as the people around her. This could also explain why she lived in isolation, because as everyone else was caught up in trying to be saved, she was living out her life the way she wanted. Dickinson’s religious and spiritual outlooks are reflected in her poetry.
The poem “Because I could not stop for Death” is one of Dickinson’s many poems influenced by her religion. In this poem, Dickinson is trying to depict herself from beyond the grave, as if she has already died. She describes how she was too caught up in her own life to be stopped by death; hence the title of this work. It also explains that she, unlike the people around her who are so focused on being saved by God when they die, was so busy with everything else to care. The first stanza in the poem, “Because I could not stop for Death / He kindly stopped for me / The Carriage held but just Ourselves / And Immortality” (“Because I could not stop for Death” 1-4), describes death practically picking up the author in a carriage with just themselves and immortality. Then in the second stanza, Death’s civility is Dickinson explaining that Death is teaching her to give up all of the things that had made her busy, so she could enjoy the ‘ride’ to the end of her life. The third stanza is Emily Dickinson explaining all of the things in the world that she is leaving behind, some that she was toopreoccupied to notice before. The transitions she uses between the stanzas, are of her leaving the old world and entering a different, gloomier one: “We passed the Setting Sun / Or rather – He passed us” (“Because I could not stop for Death” 12-13). In this stanza, she finally realizes that she is dead and her past life is gone. Her death becomes a bit physical too, with her describing her gown and the chill outside, and the same in the next stanza. The final stanza describes what Dickinson meant by Immortality in the beginning of the poem. She describes how, even though it had been centuries since she died, to her it only feels like a day (Cullina, Chainani, et al par.7-14). In this poem, Dickinson gives death a personality, and the personality she gives death reflects the personality she gives to God. She portrays death as a journey after a busy life, which lasts an eternity but does not feel very long at all. Another one of Emily Dickinson poems, “Some keep the Sabbath going to Church”, more literally relates to her view and practices of religion by describing faith.
The first stanza in Dickinson’s poem talks about how different people keep their religious views alive. She says that “Some keep the Sabbath going to Church / I keep it, staying at Home” (“Some keep the Sabbath going to Church” 1-2). She describes that in going to the Sabbath, they are giving their faith to the Lord. She then goes on to say, that by staying home and worshipping God at home is keeping her faith and relationship with God in a more real and alive way. In the following stanza, she describes how some people wear their robes to prove their righteousness to God and the faith, while Dickinson does not need to prove her faith to others, she proved to herself enough how much God means to her, and does not need to try and prove her love of God to everyone else. This stanza helps explain that a person who has to convince others that they are true to God means that their inner self does not agree that they are as faithful as they really should be. Someone who is truly faithful to God would not have to brag or show it off to the rest of the world, but they would know inside of themselves that however they act they will be sent up to heaven. The final stanza explains that God is always preaching, but the sermon is not the type heard at Church. He preaches every day and going to mass will not affect how He preaches. No matter if a person is faithful in others eyes or not, she explains that there is not any doubt of His undying love for His truly good, and faithful people. Emily Dickinson uses her poem to say that it is not necessary show off a person’s faith to others, to be rewarded with heaven. She says that true believers do not have to show off to the world the fact that they are going to heaven by wearing robes, attending mass, and declaring themselves “saved”. The true believers know that they are going all along, whether they prove it to everyone else or not (“Exposing the Hypocrisy of Religion in Emily Dickinson’s Some Keep the Sabbath Going to Church” par. 1-6). As religion has a strong influence on many people’s lifestyles, Emily Dickinson’s religion and her true spirituality had a strong influence on her poetry. Two of her poems, “Some Keep the Sabbath going to Church” and “Because I could not stop for Death” are both examples of how religion influenced her poetry.
Cullina, Alice, Soman Chainani, and et al. “Emily Dickinson’s Collected Poems Study Guide : Summary and Analysis of “Because I could not stop for Death”” GradeSaver. N.p., 26 Jul 2009. Web. 30 Apr 2012. Dickinson, Emily. Some Keep The Sabbath Going to Church. Johnson, Thomas H. The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson. New York: Back Bay Books, 30 Jan 1976. Print. Dickinson, Emily. Because I could not stop for Death. Johnson, Thomas H. The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson. New York: Back Bay Books, 30 Jan 1976. Print. “Emily Dickinson – Poets.org”. Poets.org. Academy of American Poets, n.d. Web. 10 Apr 2012. “Exposing the Hypocrisy of Religion in Emily Dickinson’s Some Keep the Sabbath Going to Church”. 123HelpMe.com. 30 Apr 2012 Pettinger, Tejvan R. “Emily Dickinson Biography”. BiographyOnline. N.p., 26 June 2006. Web. 10 Apr 2012. “The Spirituality of Emily Dickinson”. Sumangali. N.p., 10 May 2008. Web. 10 Apr 2012.
Whitman vs Dickenson on Locomotives
Walt Whitman’s poem “To a Locomotive in Winter” and Emily Dickinson’s poem “I Like to See it Lap Miles” are both based on what had been upcoming in their era: locomotives. Whitman used Old English to protray his admiration with the train, especially it’s physique and ‘will’, while Dickinson uses modern language to observe what the train does and how it acts. It almost seems as though Whitman is sexually describing the train, as if it’s a romantic poem of someone he loves.
He describes the train as a, “fierce-throated beauty!” He also goes into details about not only the train, “Thy black cylindric body, golden brass, and silvery steel” but even the smoke that it emits, “Thy long, pale, floating vapor-pennants, tinged with delicate purple.”
He is romantiscing the train and personifying it: “Thy piercing, madly-whistled laughter! thy echoes… rousing all!” He also admires it’s strenght for pushing past the cold winter, the “storm, and buffeting gusts of wind, and falling snow” leaving only “dense and murky clouds” behind it.
From these lines, it’s clear that imagery is used multiple times through out so that readers may picture the image of the “twinkle” on it’s weels and all the metals it’s made out of. He points out it’s leadership, “Thy train of cars behind, obedient, merrily-following”, all while the front cart is “careering” through the snowy tracks.
This can be symbolism for how the train can get past any obsticle even in the worst of situations. It seems he wants to indulge and share this feeling of power, “Roll through my chant, with all thy lawless music.”He observes every little detail of the train, it’s “ponderous side-bars… rods, gyrating, shuttling at thy sides”, and connects all the details with it’s beauty, strong will, superiority, and concludes that it results in being free, moving along the vast endless land. On the other hand, Dickinson’s poem was no where near as passionate as Whitman’s. Although it did protray similar feelings toward the train, she described the train without lust.She gives the train the traits of a horse, it would “lick the Valleys up.. and stop to feed itself at Tanks.” She shares the similar idea that the train is powerful. A horse is powerful enough to carry people and items to a far distance and quickly as well. In this way she found that the horse and train were similar.
The Analysis of The Poem #280 by Emily Dickinson
Adroit (noun) – clever or skillful in using hands or mind. In her poem #280, Emily Dickinson describes her insanity caused by her isolation from the outside world. The first time the poem is read, it may seem like she is recalling a moment from her past, which included a funeral of someone she knew – maybe even her parents. If the poem is read closely, it becomes clear that the speaker is not sane. The most obvious part is the rhyming. In the first four stanzas, the rhyming is the same – it is A B C B.
In the last stanza, however, there is no particular rhyming at all. This break from predictable pattern represents the speaker’s departure from sanity. In the first stanza, the speaker talks about the funeral in her brain. With only one line read, we can interpret that it was not a real death, but a death of her sanity. Mourners symbolize her only rational thoughts left. These rational thoughts keep “treading” in her brain and try to bring the sense and sanity that the speaker is losing.
In the second stanza, the rational thoughts stop “treading” and sit down, which symbolizes her brain giving up and her becoming insane.
She also talks about the beating from the Drum, which made her “mind go numb”. This symbolizes how the speaker is hallucinating. There is also repetition, which is similar to the first stanza. She seems to repeat her own thoughts, so she would not lose them completely. In the third stanza, her rational thoughts, represented by the Mourners, take the Box away. The Box is the coffin in which the speaker’s sanity now lies. She also states that these rational thoughts took it away “With those same Boots of Lead, again.” Boots of lead symbolize force. The speaker’s sanity was taken with force. The words “same” and “again” tell the reader that it is not the first time the speaker loses her sanity. In the fourth stanza, Dickinson talks about the importance of listening and also compares herself to silence. This is factual, because Dickinson never left her home and almost never talked to anybody. She calls both herself and silence a “strange race”, admitting that she is strange and there are not many people like her. Silence is also very uncommon in the real world.