Personal Response to Emily Dickinson

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“Write a personal response in relation to Dickinson’s exploration of theme”

For me, the study of Emily Dickinson’s poetry was the most memorable part of poetry this year. The fact that all of Dickinson’s poetry is highly personal and filled with meaning and sentiment adds to the enjoyment of this renowned poets work. Dickinson is a highly elusive poet and we are given the knowledge of Dickinson’s sheltered upbringing but yet still it amazes me the fact that her poems are still around to this day, one of the main contributing factors to this is down to the fact that her themes are universal and are something everyone can relate to. A poem that’s theme I found quite thought provoking is “There's a Certain Slant of Light”. This poem explores the relationship between man and God. This relationship is not comforting but one which causes fear as our immortality is revealed to us. She believes that the slant of light reminds us of our vulnerability and this knowledge is hurtful and depressing.

“Heavenly Hurt it gives us”
“An Imperial affliction
Sent us of the Air”

These themes are enhanced by the use of language in the poem. The language is stark and creates an air of solemnity. Vocabulary such as “Winter”, “oppresses” and “Hurt” help create this atmosphere, but also adds to the depressing nature. The poets reference to light and dark contributes to the depressing theme which adds to the sobriety of the poem. The exploration of this depressing theme is uncomfortable for both reader and poet but this adds to the interest of the poem.

Another interesting poem is “Hope is the Thing with Feathers”. The language is once more trade mark Dickinson. Random capitalisation and dashes. The theme of this poem is Hope. Hence the title but anyways, Hope permeates throughout the whole poems structure. The pre dominant image of hope is that of:

“Hope is the thing with feathers-

That perches in the soul”

This image of the bird, valiantly perching in ones soul...
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