Awareness of Emily Dickinson has grown and deepened over the course of the twentieth century such that the "delightful" andplatitude-laden verses, as they were initially viewed, have provento be rich, often ironic, highly complex explorations of one poet'ssubjectivity. Dickinson's poetry today challenges us to confrontaspects of our own inner processes in relation to psychologicalpain, death, the world and possible -- though not undoubted --transcendence of it, and frustrated desire, to name just a few ofthe themes. The emergence of discourse on addictions, both tosubstances and to modes of behavior, gives us a framework in whichwe can newly assess one of Dickinson's poems, and even though thepoet's particular life circumstances -- involving the influence ofPuritanism, which would also affect Dickinson's contemporariesHerman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne, the limitations placed onwomen in nineteenth-century America in general, and EmilyDickinson's own self-limiting reclusive existence -- differ fromour late-twentieth-century circumstances, nonetheless Dickinson'spoetry presents the overall shape of the subjective process underlying addiction in such an abstract form, that the work inquestion speaks to us directly over a century later.
The circumstances alluded to above brought the poet into a situation in which she was caught between the desire to communicate her reflections on life -- she sent poems as both letters and aesthetic objects with illustrations of a collage character to friends -- and the distrust of worldly success and fame proceeding from the Puritanical tradition embodied in the writings of the eighteenth-century preacher Jonathan Edwards. Whereas a later --and ma...
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...mith, Barbara Herrnstein. Poetic Closure: A Study of HowPoems End. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1968.
Turner, Clara Newman. "My Personal Acquaintance with Emily Dickinson" in Sewall, Richard B., The Life of EmilyDickinson vol. 1. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux,1974.
Van Wyck, William. "Emily Dickinson's Songs out of Sorrow." Personalist, 18, no.2 (Spring/April 1937), 183-89.
Webster, Noah. A Dictionary of the English Language...inTwo Volumes. London: Black, Young, and Young, 1828.
An American Dictionary of the EnglishLanguage...Revised and Enlarged by Chauncey Goodrich. Springfield: Merriam, 1855.
Whicher, George Frisbie. "New England Poet" in Mornings at8:50. Northampton: The Hampshire Bookshop, 1950.
This Was a Poet: A Critical Biography of EmilyDickinson. New York: Scribner's, 1938.
Wolff, Cynthia Griffin. Emily Dickinson. New York:Knopf, 1986.
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