Emily Dickinson's poetry - Essay Example

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Unlike in prose, in poems, the writer expresses his or her associations, feelings, moods and momentary emotions within a fixed frame of rhyme and rhythm. Thus,…
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Emily Dickinsons poetry
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Emily Dickinson’s Poetry Poetry is, to my thinking, absolutely special, standing above all other literary forms and holding its own niche. Unlike in prose, in poems, the writer expresses his or her associations, feelings, moods and momentary emotions within a fixed frame of rhyme and rhythm. Thus, sometimes, complying with canons, some poets simply lost their true voices and fail to acquire balance between form and contents of poems. This inevitably makes their poetic works artificial, making it difficult for the reader to delve deep into the poem and decipher the author’s message.
Poetry of Emily Dickinson, one of the most illustrious American poets, is marked by the unaffected and sensible way of communicating of thoughts and ideas. Her poems – sometimes rather short and succinct – are abundant with poetic vehicles and rather recognizable owing to the original style and brilliant poetic genius. And, moreover, I would say, that Dickinson’s poetry is alive. The poet herself inquired about liveliness of her verses in one of her letters: “Are you too deeply occupied to say if my verse is alive? The mind is so near itself it cannot see distinctly, and I have none to ask” (Dickinson, 1862). To my thinking, the answer is ‘yes’ and it could be proved by several arguments.
Firstly, it is the peculiar style enlivening the verses: in her poems, Dickinson uses her own recognizable style of punctuation and rhyming – and these “instruments” grant dynamic and lively shape to her thoughts. For instance, her recurrent use of dashes and capital letters in certain words create the effect of intensity and emphasis. Her verse “Hope” is the thing with feathers” reflects the major features of her writing style. Here, she muses upon the essence of hope, comparing it to a bird. In the second stanza, she writes: “And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard-» (Dickinson, 312). By using a capital letter, she emphasizes the word and makes the verse more dynamic, virtually pulsating. It is clearly seen that the poet was “enamoured in language” (Melani) and played with it in the most exquisite ways, making the short lines of grammatically wrenched and compressed text speak for her and sound melodically and touchingly.
Here, coming out of the previous, is the second ground to consider Dickinson’s poetry alive. Once, she herself defined poetry in the following way: “If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire ever can warm me I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry” (Dickinson). Judging by this definition, one can conclude that poetry is what makes a person’s heart pant and touches strings of one’s soul. In other words, poetry should leave a strong aesthetical and sensible aftertaste (and in this way, probably, not only verses could be called poetry). The reader is expected to read between the lines, tracing the implicit meaning of poetic metaphors and even create his/her own understandings. The literature work lives as long as it finds response in the reader’s soul and this response is found only then, when the work is authentic and humane. To support my point of view, I would like to provide the verse that captured my imagination the most among the poems of Emily Dickinson. It is “Because I couldn’t stop for Death”, the poem, telling the story of a female narrator’s journey to the netherworld – as I understand it.
Because I could not stop for Death –
He kindly stopped for me –
The Carriage held but just Ourselves –
And Immortality.
(Dickinson, 712)
The first stanza of the poem shows that the author is about to muse about death. In a delicate and succinct way, Dickinson describes the journey between earthly life and eternity, revealing her perception of this phenomenon, personifying it and giving the whole piece the air of serenity. Her metaphors, as mentioned above, are very expressive and carefully selected: she writes about “a House that seemed /A Swelling of the Ground-”, and the reader knows from the intimate impulse that it is a grave.
Taking the original dynamic style, sincere and not boring, and the effect Dickinson’s poetry produces o the reader, it would be fully reasonable to say that her poetry is alive, indeed. It lives; it acquires new facets of meaning as different people read it; it touches upon such eternal and palpitating themes as life and death, love and friendship, nature and beauty (Coghill), which will, probably be relevant and evoke emotional response in people for centuries to come. And, of course, it is far from being artificial and boring – the poet felt natural and comfortable in playing with poetic canons and framing her brilliant ideas into them.
Works Cited:
Coghill, S. Study Guide: Basic Characteristics of Emily Dickinsons Poetry, 1986. From:
Dickinson, Emily. “Hope” is the thing with feathers - (314), from:
Dickinson, Emily. Because I could not stop for Death (712), from:
Higginson, Thomas. ‘Emily Dickinson’s Letters’. The Atlantic Online. From:
Melani, Lilia. Emily Dickinson, 2009. From: Read More
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