Emily Dickinson and Her Poetry

analytical Essay
3199 words
3199 words

Emily Dickinson and Her Poetry

Emily Dickinson is one of the great visionary poets of nineteenth century America. In her lifetime, she composed more poems than most modern Americans will even read in their lifetimes. Dickinson is still praised today, and she continues to be taught in schools, read for pleasure, and studied for research and criticism. Since she stayed inside her house for most of her life, and many of her poems were not discovered until after her death, Dickinson was uninvolved in the publication process of her poetry. This means that every Dickinson poem in print today is just a guess—an assumption of what the author wanted on the page. As a result, Dickinson maintains an aura of mystery as a writer. However, this mystery is often overshadowed by a more prevalent notion of Dickinson as an eccentric recluse or a madwoman. Of course, it is difficult to give one label to Dickinson and expect that label to summarize her entire life. Certainly she was a complex woman who could not accurately be described with one sentence or phrase. Her poems are unique and quite interestingly composed—just looking at them on the page is pleasurable—and it may very well prove useful to examine the author when reading her poems. Understanding Dickinson may lead to a better interpretation of the poems, a better appreciation of her life’s work. What is not useful, however, is reading her poems while looking back at the one sentence summary of Dickinson’s life.

The notion of the author has often been disputed when it comes to critical literary studies. The argument centers around one basic question: Should the author be considered when looking at a text? There are numerous reasons given as to why the author is important or why the ...

... middle of paper ...

.... Rutgers University Libraries. 19 Apr. 2005


Keller, Lynn. “An Interview with Susan Howe.” Contemporary Literature 36.1 (1995): 1 34.

Oates, Joyce Carol, ed. The Essential Dickinson. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

Winhusen, Steven. “Emily Dickinson and Schizotypy.” The Emily Dickinson Journal 13.1 (2004): 77-96.

Works Consulted

Green, Fiona. “Plainly on the Other Side: Susan Howe’s Recovery.” Contemporary Literature 42.1 (2001): 78-101.

Ickstadt, Heinz. “Emily Dickinson’s Place in Literary History; or, the Public Function of a Private Poet.” The Emily Dickinson Journal 10.1 (2001): 55-68.

Ma, Ming-Qian. “Poetry as History Revised: Susan Howe’s ‘Scattering as Behavior Toward Risk.’” American Literary History 6.4 (1994): 716-37.

Miller, Cristanne. “Whose Dickinson?” American Literary History 12.1 (2000): 230-53.

In this essay, the author

  • Opines that emily dickinson is one of the great visionary poets of nineteenth century america. she composed more poems than most modern americans will even read in their lifetimes.
  • Argues that the notion of is disputed when it comes to critical literary studies.
  • Analyzes how a simple internet search for an emily dickinson biography will yield dozens of web pages with details about the life of this nineteenth century poet.
  • Explains that dickinson was an eccentric recluse, so one might interpret the poem based on her isolation, her loneliness. had the reader not known anything about her, the interpretation might be different.
  • Analyzes how dickinson's poems contain more than just a window to her mind, and agoraphobia fails to explain many of her more peculiar aspects.
  • Opines that readers of dickinson's poems are more concerned with her faults and eccentricities than her method of writing. each poem should be given the chance to speak and have a voice.
  • Analyzes how dickinson's poems are written in a very peculiar manner unlike other poems of the era.
  • Analyzes how dickinson's manuscripts reflect only the shadow of their inception in typography. shapes and letters pun on and play with each other.
  • Opines that dickinson's poems were written sensually in her manuscripts, and any current incarnation of her work is an altered form of the original.
  • Argues that a reasonable solution must be found regarding the publication of dickinson's poems.
  • Explains that punctuation is just as important as words because it opens up a number of questions—questions about tone, questions about meaning.
  • Explains that dashes can alter one's perception of the poem, changing the meaning of words.
  • Explains that dickinson's poems deal with death or dying and other grave subjects, but a modern reader may find it difficult to decipher meaning from the poems without help.
  • Explains that emily dickinson became the poet we know between 1858 and 1860. the first labor called for was to sweep away the pernicious idea of poetry as embroidery for women.
  • Analyzes how dickinson wrote regularly, finding her voice and settling into a particular style of poem, proving that men were not the only ones capable of crafting intelligent, intriguing poetry.
  • Analyzes how dickinson's poems were considered historically important, but were amateurish in her day. the atlantic monthly criticized her for not discerning enough to rise above conventional poetics.
  • Opines that the importance of a reader's interpretation depends on what facts that reader uses when looking at the poem.
  • Cites howe, susan, "some notes on visual intentionality in emily dickinson." rutgers university libraries.
  • Describes green, fiona, "plainly on the other side: susan howe’s recovery." contemporary literature.
  • Cites ickstadt, heinz, "emily dickinson’s place in literary history; or, the public function of a private poet."
  • Cites ma, ming-qian, and howe's "scattering as behavior toward risk" in american literary history.
Get Access