Emily Dickinson's Revision of Poetry

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Emily Dickinson, an American poet during the mid-19th century, revolutionized poetic form and function. She experimented with variant punctuation and with unconventional capitalization, while discussing everyday life. Emily Dickinson expresses her belief that poetry presents endless possibilities for the expression of emotions, thoughts, and feelings through her use of both traditional and organic forms, extended metaphor, and imagery.

Initially, Emily Dickinson combines traditional and organic forms of poetry to express her feelings. Dickinson’s use of quatrains exemplifies traditional framework. By dividing her twelve-line poem into three four-line stanzas, she honors the conventional poetic form. However, Dickinson also uses the organic structure in her poetry. She demonstrates this process through her use of dashes and irregular capitalization. Dickinson uses two dashes in several lines of poetry (lines 4, 9, 10) instead of the more customary commas to force the reader to pause and consider the underlying message. Additionally, Dickinson frequently breaks the standard rules of grammar by capitalizing common nouns. For example, she capitalizes “Possibility” (line 1), “House” and “Prose” (line 2), and “Paradise” (line 12). By capitalizing these important words, Dickinson underscores the significance of the ideas they represent. Thus, Dickinson’s union of traditional and organic forms assists in the conveyance of her ideas.

Along with the use of variant forms, Dickinson also employs a conceit to extol the virtues of poetry. Throughout the poem, Dickinson uses the comparison of an imaginative house to the boundless possibility of poetry. For instance, according to Dickinson, the “house” of poetry is “More numerous of Windows--/Superior--for Doors--” (lines 3-4), contains “an Everlasting Roof” (line 7), and enables the poet “To gather Paradise” (line 12). These lines offer the idea that poetry presents limitless potential to the writer. Therefore, the...
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