Emily Dickinson's Poetry

Emily Dickinson's Poetry

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Emily dickinson's Poetry



In Emily Dickinson's Poetry she has a great interest with brief encounters and transition states of mind.



Dickinson's depicts many of her brief encounters in great detail. Even if it was only a passing moment, Dickinson does not omit any aspect of her sightings. An example of a passing moment which she develops into great detail would be Dickinson's first sighting of the bird in "A bird came down the walk" Here ED expands on the birds actions and movements. Her description of the bird in flight takes up many lines. Instead of simply telling us the bird took flight, she elaborates on the beauty and grace of his flight. The actions of the birds are awe - inspiring to her.



"And rowed him softer home"

"Than oars divide the ocean....."



Dickinson's attitude to passing moments is quite complex, as she does not interpret them simply as a "passing moment" but an extraordinary descriptive event.



Another example of a passing moment would be in "A narrow fellow in the grass" In this poem Dickinson's keen observation of passing moments is clearly observed. She notices every movement of the snake even though his movements are very sudden and fast. Initially the snake is characterized as transient or passing swiftly. These movements appear to be very sudden but Dickinson goes into more detail and as a result the essential nature of the snake is clearly defined.



"The grass divides as with a comb"

"Whip lash" "wrinkled and was gone"



The snake's brief passing seems much longer to Dickinson whereas it was a very quick movement. By using he word "Whiplash" to describe the snakes actions we can see how sudden the experience must have been. She tells us how she was frightened to the core of her being:



"Without a tighter breathing

"And Zero at the bone"



Dickinson does not treat this as a quick passing moment but an experience, which she elaborates on. This aspect of her work also occurs in "I felt a funeral in my brain" An example of this would be her stream of consciousness which is clearly illustrated with Dickinson' s urgent repetition of `And "

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"And then I heard them lift a box"

"And I dropped down and down"



It's as if the poet needs to express each thought in rapid succession for fear she will forget something. It is this relentless, unceasing nature of the experience that conveys the hopelessness of her situation. All these are examples of passing moments in her mind. She elaborates on this passing moment and gives us a clear picture of all the thought's and images in her mind.



Each of the poems concerns themselves with realms of consciousness and with the isolated nature of existence. For this reason they are intensely personal as they focus on the inner experience. These passing moments of intense personal insight are well depicted in many of her poems.



Another important fascination Emily Dickinson portrays in her poetry is Transition States. Her poems contemplate on the transience of life. An example of this would be in "I felt a funeral in my brain" The funeral marks the passage from one state to another. (Life to death, sanity to insanity)



`And then a plank in Reason, broke

And I dropped down and down....'



From this we can see Dickinson in a transitional state. She is falling between life and death. The pressures of everyday life as illustrated in the images of `the mourners treading' the `beating of the drum' `the boots of lead' causes her to snap and this propels her into a loss of all sensation (unconsciousness)



`And I, and Silence, some strange Race

Wrecked solitary here'



This shows Dickinson in an in-between state of sanity and insanity. She finds herself in a strange place with a "strange race" not knowing where to go or what to do.



"And hit a world at every plunge"



She falls past "worlds" which may stand for her past; she is loosing her connections to reality. Her descent is described as "plunges" suggesting the speed and force of her fall into psychological chaos - here transition state.



A further example of ED in a transition State is in "I heard a fly buzz when I died"



The opening lines juxtapose the death of the poet with the life of the fly, stillness with movement and silence with noise. Her fascination with the deathbed scene is a moment of transition from life to death.



Dickinson uses present and past tense indicating that transition between existence and death.



`I heard a fly buzz when I died'


How can you hear a fly buzz when you're dead? Except perhaps if you are in a transition state.



Throughout her poetry death is always seen as a doorway, never as an end. This doorway of death is "the stillness in the air between the heaves of storms" that moment of calm and stillness, before the storm begins again. Death is an experience outside the realm of this world's consciousness or understanding - transitional state.



In these transitional states of Emily Dickinson's mind, she writes the un-manageable - what it is like to die. It is quite shocking yet impressive as she puts into language the one experience that exists outside of language. Dickinson's Transition states allow us to experience her outlook on everyday life and the emotions she endures.



Dickinson's most important perception is in short-lived moments and in - between states of the mind. Her short-lived moments are described in great detail, which give us the readers, a clearer insight into her outlook on nature and transience. Her transition states allow us to s look deeper into her mind and feelings. They are for us to read, interpret and to create meaning.

"And finished knowing - then"


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