Essay on Emily Dickinson And The Civil War

Essay on Emily Dickinson And The Civil War

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From literary scholars and professionals to undergraduate college students to the high school student in an English class, Emily Dickinson is a renowned and beloved poet to analyze and study. Many people have studied the biography of her life in Amherst Massachusetts. Many have looked at her verse in comparison to other poets at the time like Walt Whitman. Still, through letters and one thousand seven hundred seventy-five poems, her work is still looked at in a vacuum. In this age of New Criticism where work is looked at from close readings and explications, readers tend to move past a cultural and historical perspective that can shed light on racial, social and political issues of the time. In particular, the Civil War (1861-1865) were critical years for poet Emily Dickinson that has been until recently looked over by scholars. Perhaps what should be done is to look at New Criticism through the lens of a cultural and historical perspective. If audience looks at Dickinson’s use of language and form, it illuminates the America that Dickinson was living in. Many of Dickinson’s poems through the span of the Civil War show her external view on subjects about war and death. In much of her poetry she speaks indirectly about issues, but through images of battle, Dickinson can talk about war and death on an off the page. On a first read, a reader may think of a poem as separate or unrelating to a much broader issue. However, Dickinson does a spectacular job at weaving narrative and image-driven poems to discuss her views about death and war and question the institution of it from personal and religious standpoints. Many of her war poems allow readers to understand her internal thoughts about an external conflict in American History. Dick...


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...ctory” suggest that not only did the son die bravely but imagery suggests war as well.
Immediately there is a tonal shift once readers get to the second stanza with the use of the caesura pause in line five, “To look at her — How slowly” (5). It is as if the speaker is slowing down time because they must look at the mother but slowly as if time is unfolding. Then readers are given a sort of Kinesthesia, “The Seasons must have turned / till Bullets clipt an Angle / And He passed quickly round (6-8).” The physical sensation of the season changing matched with bullets and dying quick is a stark image of being shot. What this device of imagery achieves in this poem is the speaker taking the narrative of the first stanza then giving readers in the second stanza a morbid feeling through vivid description to associate with war and what it feels like to be shot and die.

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