Emily Dickinson was a reclusive American poet. Unrecognized in her own time, Dickinson is known posthumously for her unusual use of form and syntax. She was born on December 10, 1830 in Amherst, Massachusetts. She left school early, living a reclusive life on the family homestead. There, she secretly created bundles of poetry and wrote hundreds of letters. Emily Dickerson is now considered one of the towering figures of American literature. Dickinson died of kidney disease in Amherst, Massachusetts, on May 15, 1886, at the age of 55. She was laid to rest in her family plot at West Cemetery. The Homestead, where Dickinson was born, is now a museum.
The turning point in Dickinson’s career as a poet, and hence in her life, came in her late twenties. Before 1858, her writing consisted of letters and desultory, sentimental verses; thereafter, particularly from 1858 to 1863, poetry became her primary activity. As far as scholars can ascertain, she wrote one hundred in 1859, sixty-five in 1860, at least eighty in 1861, and in 1862 perhaps as many as 366, of a prosodic skill far superior to her previous achievement. What caused such a flood of creativity? Most, but not all biographers attribute it to her unfulfilled love for the Reverend Mr. Charles Wadsworth (1814-1882).
In the article “Journal of Literary Semantics 2015” is an analysis of Emily Dickinson’s poem “My life had stood a loaded gun”, this poem uses a specific methodology that combines linguistics and literary theory (Bauer, Matthias). This poem was written around 1863 and published in 1929. It is one of Dickinson’s most controversial poems. It has triggered multiple different interpretations, ranging from the description of a male-female relatio...
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...not death that is powerful, but the ability to die. This shows how intricately life and death are tied up, and how life cannot exist without death, for while the gun “may longer live” than the human master, it never really lives at all “Without – the power to die –.” The last stanza displays increased linguistic complexity again. “Though I than HE may longer live, He longer must than I”, the matrix clause is given to be compared to a universal force (Bauer, Matthias).
This poem of Emily Dickinson is playing with two interpretive possibilities that a gun or a human being are reflecting on their respective lives. This causes flexibility and Emily Dickinson prevents the reader from deriving a literal interpretation from the mechanics of grammar. This allows the reader to be left with a certain freedom. This freedom is created by choice points within the structure.
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