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Emily Dickinson

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Emily Dickinson was ahead of her time in the way she wrote her poems. The poems she wrote had much more intelligence and background that the common person could comprehend and understand. People of all ages and critics loved her writings and their meanings, but disliked her original, bold style. Many critics restyled her poetry to their liking and are often so popular are put in books alongside Dickinson’s original poetry (Tate 1). She mainly wrote on nature. She also wrote about domestic activity, industry and warfare, economy and law. “Her scenes sometime create natural or social scenes but are more likely to create psychological landscapes, generalized scenes, or allegorical scenes.” She uses real places and actions to convey a certain idea or emotion in her poem. She blends allegory and symbolism, which is the reason for the complication in her poems because allegory and symbolism contradict each other (Diehl 18, 19). Dickinson did not name most of her poems. She named twenty-four of her poems, of which twenty-one of the poems were sent to friends. She set off other people’s poetry titles with quotation marks, but only capitalized the first word in her titles. Many critics believe she did not title most of her poetry because she was not planning on publishing her work. As Socrates said, “the knowledge of things is not devised from names… no man would like to put himself or the education of his mind in the power of names”(Watts 130). Dickinson said that the speaker in all her poems is not herself. She incorporates her emotions, feelings, and hints at the facts about her life although she is not the speaker. Emily Dickinson’s poetry is short but meaningful and full of imagery on everyday subjects (Juhasz 73). Throughout most of Dickinson poetry she uses partial, slant or off rhymes, in which the final sounds of the word are similar but not identical. She knew she was not following the poetic methods of people of her time but didn’t care because she was writing for herself, not the public. Her stanza forms and poetic rhymes come from the Protestant hymns of Issac Watts (Wolff 101). “Emily Dickinson’s poems are usually written in short stanza, mostly quatrains with short lines usually rhyming only on the second and fourth lines. Other poems employ triplets or pairs of couplets, and a few poems employ longer, looser, and more complicated stanzas” (Tate 21). Her poems take on one line of iambic tetrameter followed by one line of iambic trimeter. Dickinson liked the hymn form of poetry and the then popular folk form. “Because I cold not stop for death,” is an example of her most commonly used metrical pattern (Watts 125). Throughout her poetry she used similes, or “Comparative Anatomy.” Emily used centripetal and centrifugal similes. In “The props Assist the House,” Dickinson is trying to convey a house under construction is like a soul in the process of being “perfected”(Shackford 2). Emily Dickinson never prepared for her poetry beforehand, but she made the meaning of her poetry as she wrote. She misleads the reader when she uses ellipses, inversions, and unexpected climaxes. The poems are very lyrical and “lacks the slow, retreating harmonies of epic measures” (Shackford 1,2). Dickinson wrote on death, love, nature and religion. She believed in the Puritan-Calvinist belief. She used very powerful religious words like “Calvary,” “Crown,” and “Redemption.” She uses a lot of imagery on baptism and crucifixion. In “All hail the power of Jesus’ name” she is telling what Jesus’ crown of thorns signified to the Puritans. It not only signifies sacrifice of Jesus’ life for our sins but love and sorrow also (Juhasz 167). Love was another favored subject of Dickinson. She never talks about her love or lover but mainly concentrates on the passion side of love. In her poetry, she represents man with the words “Father,” “King,” “Lord,” and “Master.” She uses a metaphor to describe women to men as

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