Emily Dickinson the Unspoken Transcendentalist

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Emily Dickinson is one of the most widely read and well known American poets. While she doesn't exactly fall into the category of the Transcendentalists, she was well-regarded by Emerson and she read his work thoughtfully. In 1850 her friend Benjamin Newton gave her Emerson's first collection of poems whose style and subject seem to resonate in her poetry. Later she expressed admiration of the writing of Thoreau. Dickinson kept her writing, as well as her writerly intentions, as simple as possible. According to Roy Harvey Pearce, "she is simply and starkly concerned with being herself and accommodating her view of the world to that concern." Ironically, for wishing only to be herself, Dickinson was following a transcendental ideal; she was being true to herself and being an individual at all costs, as opposed to conforming to a world of followers. Keeping Dickinson's famous reclusively in mind, one could say that in her lifetime she was neither a leader nor a follower. Dickinson never tied herself to a specific school of thought or philosophy, she was simply herself. Perhaps that was transcendental. Some poems of Emily Dickinson seem to be transcendental, yet not quite. She appears to search for the universal truths and investigate the circumstances of the human condition: sense of life, immortality, God, faith, place of man in the universe. Emily Dickinson questions absolutes and her argumentation is multisided. The poetic technique that she uses involves making abstract concrete, which creates a striking imagery like that of a hand of the wind combing the Sky. One could perceive Emerson's transcendentalism's, influence in these poems but the profound difference here is that Emily Dickinson does not take a role of a prophet, redeemer and teacher of the world. Instead, hers is the lonely search for the truth; she dismisses conventional faith as the easiest way toward salvation. Self-analysis, self-discipline, and self-critique are the tools of her search....
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