Historical Criticism of Emily Dickinson's Through the Dark Sod
Kaneeka L. Taylor
Eng 438: Literary Theory
Professor Brendan Praniewicz
November 16, 2015
Emily Dickinson's Through the Dark Sod
Emily Dickinson’s Through the Dark Sod is a short eight-line poem that is filled with deep ambiguous metaphors. Unlike her contemporaries, she did not provide a concrete meaning in her poems and mainly incorporated metaphors, and that is visible in her poem, Through the Dark Sod. Dickinson had a great ability to convey her experiences of reality, and so in her poems there are both surface meanings and underlying significant aspects and metaphors. This is why it requires a detailed review of socio-cultural factors of her time and...
A deeper look into the lines of Through the Dark Sod reveals how the life of the poet and historic contexts had an effect on the poem. The time and place where Dickinson was brought up had a significant influence in this poem. She had a wealthy and strict Christian upbringing, which is likely represented in the poem as ‘Dark Sod’ and the next lines “The Lily passes sure” reflects the poet’s thriving lifestyle within that environment. This is indeed a symbolic representation of how the moldy, dark, and dank environment behind her upbringing and education influenced her life thereafter. “Through the Dark Sod – as Education – The Lily passes sure” (Dickinson, 1886). The orthodox religious teachings and society’s expectations in her period pressurized her to be a woman of place and duty. Dickinson considering these pressures in her environment as the “Dark Sod,” crafted her own version of life consisting of morality and spirituality, with no trepidation. “Feels her white foot—no trepidation—Her faith—no fear” (Dickinson, 1886). The final stanza of the poem reveals Dickinson’s joyful adult life without the above-mentioned pressures, which she relates to the word “meadow.” Her new life has sprouted in a flourishing...
As above-discussed, Dickinson celebrates concept of ecstatic life in relation to her personal life and the period of American history during which she lived. The lines of the poem reflects how her education, religious upbringing, and society’s expectations influenced or even pressured her, and how she was able to withstand those pressures thereby shaping her later life in a happy way. Similarly, the lines also imply the historical background of the US, and how the country achieved growth and maturity in the aftermath of the Civil War. So, Through the Dark Sod provides an interesting and insightful personal and historical account for readers to savor and...
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