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Poems by Emily Dickinson: An Overview

By ferrisb Nov 27, 2011 1039 Words
Poems by Emily Dickinson commonly include a light airy atmosphere. She stresses the magical, down-to-earth, genuinely nice feeling a book can give a person. Even as most of the poems were created out of spontaneity, most of her works are meant to serve a concentrated purpose. Two of her poems, “Some keep the Sabbath going to Church” and “There is no Frigate like a Book” portray her message of kind but innovative nature in exceedingly disparate ways. Although they include similar literary devices like personification, diction, biblical allusions and imagery, they are of use to project their different themes. However, to most efficiently express her thoughtful yet judicious mannerisms would be through her choice of words to create an image. Emily Dickinson uses diction (a style and choice of words) and imagery (a description of a setting or image) to paint a picture of splendor and simplicity. For instance, in the poem “Some keep the Sabbath,” when she writes words like “Bobolink” instead of easy terminology like, hmm, a bird! Other interesting words she chooses to use are “Chorister” (a choir singer), “Dome” (a church roof), “Sabbath” (Sunday), “Surplice” (robes for the choir) and “Sexton” (the person who tolls the bells for a church). Not only are all of these words unorthodox, but they are all capitalized, whereas all the other words not beginning each verse are lower case, as if they are of another allegorical importance. She also shows the reader a halcyon orchard, where the birds sing as beautifully as the church choir, where the songs ring as delicately as the bells. Emily Dickinson uses the same type of diction in “There is no Frigate.” She writes words like “Coursers” (horses), “Traverse” (a journey), “Toll” (she's expressing no cost), and the word “Frigate” itself (a large boat or vessel). With a new intention and theme of travel, Dickinson uses word choice in yet another didactic poem. And she draws the reader a new purpose to read, a chance to let go, and enter a utopian world, without a penny's cost. Through her diction and imagery, Emily Dickinson personifies majestic beings and animals into humans, and also personifies objects into vessels persons use. With bird and human-like attributes, Emily Dickinson uses personification (the attribution of human characteristics to things) illuminate a pleasant natural setting. As Dickinson says she sees a “Bobolink,” she personifies it as a “Chorister,” but the “Sexton” who “toll[s] the Bell” is entitled to sing, which is only an action that can be taken by a human or bird. When she notes God, she claims him to be a “Clergyman” (a Christian minister). She also writes about how she wears her “Wings” instead of “Surplice,” which signifies freedom and naturalist views. Emily Dickinson uses personification in “There is no Frigate,” nevertheless, in a peculiarly different way.. She turns man's use of vessels and travel into miscellaneous things through comparison. She compares a “Frigate” to a book and “Coursers” to pages of poetry. Progressively, Dickinson becomes more abstract and makes a connection between a “Chariot” and the human soul. It is almost as if she is making negative connotations about ways of travel, compared to the more special things like the imagination a person uses, the special feeling a person gets from reading a book in the comfort of his/her own home (which in turn enlightens the human soul). Lastly, Emily uses biblical allusions and references to God in both poems, to signify their idealistic themes. According to most faiths, God is like the ultimatum. Or the Lord of all that is categorized as objective or subjective. Emily Dickinson uses God variously in her poetry, there are a plethora biblical allusions (references) and Godly references because of her religious background. The fact that she writes about wearing a pair of “Wings” caught me by surprise.. To be honest, at first, we thought she meant a bird, but now we are almost positive Dickinson is saying she will become an angel and return to Heaven. Even mentioning “Heaven,” going to “Church” on “Sabbath” and “God” preaching are all biblical allusions. Unlike her poem “Some keep the Sabbath,” which is buzzing with all sorts of allusions, we could only find one relevant reference to the bible in “There is no Frigate.” When the Bible was written, the common way of transportation was by “Chariot.” In the Bible, the king of Canaan owned nine-hundred chariots, Philistines had thirty thousand chariots.. There were even horses designated to carry the chariots, and there were chariots made for war alone. Notwithstanding, we can guarantee war was not on Dickinson's mind when she wrote the poem, she was more likely thinking of the tranquility and peace given off from books. Ever the tranquil atmosphere either of the two poems, Emily Dickinson chose to write about dramatically different themes. We think that Dickinson, perhaps, had wanted “Some keep the Sabbath” to intimate transcendentalism (study about emphasis on intuition and spiritualism), and metaphysics (study about existence of subjective things) to be suggestive in “There is no Frigate.” First off, we have learned that the theme of “Some keep the Sabbath” is that a person can find God and faith in nature. When you go home today, take in all the beauty of the outdoors. Who knows, maybe you're lucky enough to hear some geese or seagulls. What we mean is, be thankful for nature as much as possible, without it, we would not be here. On the other hand, we have learned that the theme of “There is no Frigate” is that books can “take us Lands away [..] Without oppress of Toll.” In other words, with imagination, books are your passport to Fiji, New York and yes, you can go visit Santa in the North Pole. At any rate, as hard as teachers try to analyze poetry or narratives, all the defining characteristics like imagery, oxymorons (ha, morons), paradoxes, etc. do not matter when it comes to the reason the poet was inspired to write about anyway, the theme is the most essential part of a thoughtful piece of work. Through the themes is where we find the real distinctions between literary masterpieces.

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