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Emily Dickinson and her Poems Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

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1 Emily Dickinson and her Poems Emily Dickinson ( )

2 Emily Dickinson and her Poems Emily Dickinson’s life ( ) Homestead, Amherst, Massachusetts Close friends: Austin (brother), Lavinia (sister), Susan Education: Amherst Academy Mt. Holyoke Female Seminary Brief visits to Washington & Philadelphia in Feb-Mar, 1855 Eye treatments at Cambridge in Apr.-Nov. 1864, Apr- Oct, 1865 Masters / Preceptors / Lovers? Desire to become a published poet? Seclusion late in life (recluse)

3 Emily Dickinson and her Poems Religion Calvinistic influence: Amherst College vs. Harvard & Yale Terrorized by threatening sermons about damnation Terror diminished (esp. after 1852) Triumph over religious fears Doubt & faith: doubts about fulfillment beyond the grave; belief in immortality

4 Emily Dickinson and her Poems Death Experience High infant and childhood mortality, high mortality in childbirth High mortality in general: death of neighbors and friends, other deaths Death of her 8-year-old nephew Gilbert Deaths of aunt, uncle, father, mother

5 Emily Dickinson and her Poems Topics for Discussion Dickinson’s unique style and language relationship between nature and humans concept of love concept of death exploration of the mind / psyche view of women’s life / position in society

6 Emily Dickinson and her Poems Features of Dickinson’s Poetry Form Subject Image Rhetorical device

7 Emily Dickinson and her Poems Meters and Stanzas familiar meters, stanzas - hymn stanza: quatrain of alternating lines of tetrameter and trimeter with lines 2 and 4 rhymed (214) irregular meters and stanzas (67, 249) occasional “slant” rhymes: today victory (67); true throe; feign strung (241); one stone (303)

8 Emily Dickinson and her Poems Frequent use of - capitalization - dash - exclamation point - enjambment ( 跳行,跨行) “It lay unmentioned – as the Sea Develop Pearl, and the Weed,” (732) - inverted order

9 Emily Dickinson and her Poems Few - periods

10 Emily Dickinson and her Poems Subject life, death, love, nature, time, eternity inner/psychic world - soul: 303, 396, 512, 974, suffering: pain, agony, anguish, grief, sorrow, despair, fear (49, 67, 241, 252, 280, 341, 465) - joy, ecstasy, transport, passion, desire of freedom (214, 249, 640, 754)

11 Emily Dickinson and her Poems Image Original: 241 Peculiar: 49 Striking: 214, 341 cognitively difficult: 585, 986

12 Emily Dickinson and her Poems Rhetorical device Metaphor: ever present in D’s poems Irony: 712, 732, 1624 (blonde assassin) Contrast: 67, 252, 579

13 Emily Dickinson and her Poems Nature poems

14 Emily Dickinson and her Poems Nature Theme Identification with Nature: its spiritual refreshment, liveliness, beauty to be appreciated (214) Alienation from Nature: its essence is baffling, elusive and destructive (258, 328, 986, 1624)

15 Emily Dickinson and her Poems Death Poems , 640, , 341

16 Emily Dickinson and her Poems Death Theme Death as a possible extinction 547 Question of whether the soul survives death, whether there is immortality, Heaven 465, 640, 712 Spiritual death 280, 341

17 Emily Dickinson and her Poems I heard a Fly buzz (465) Contrast of Stillness & fly’s Buzz Tension: pauses within a storm King – death Willed my keepsakes – ready for death Blue & Buzz: color & sound Uncertain: fly’s motion, her state of mind Fly – the moment of death & the precious world she is leaving Windows failed –unwilling to admit her eyes’ failure

18 Emily Dickinson and her Poems Because I could not stop for Death (712) Kindly, civility – irony Chill – death’s freezing effect Flat roof – swift dissolution 3 interpretations – paradise, destruction, open ending

19 Emily Dickinson and her Poems There’s a certain Slant of light (258) Paradoxes: cathedral, Heavenly hurt, Seal Despair Both elevating and destructive qualities of nature Experience beyond normal experience - extreme despair

20 Emily Dickinson and her Poems Love Theme 249, 273 & Expression of passionate love: love is everything pain as caused by love

21 Emily Dickinson and her Poems I cannot live with you (640) Paradox: a beloved man from whom she is permanently separated in life; the love she is devoted to separates her from the man she loves Lover is like God, superior to heaven

22 Emily Dickinson and her Poems Adrienne Rich Persona of masculine power 754, 315 Exploration deep in the soul: ecstasy, passion, despair, pain 258, 280, 315, 341

23 Emily Dickinson and her Poems View of woman’s life / position in society 401: satire of gentlewomen’s vanity and pretension 640: dedicated more to love than to husband’s religious belief 732: woman’s sacrifice in marriage of their “abundance / awe / pearl” 1176

24 Emily Dickinson and her Poems Assignments for “Self-Reliance” Read R.W. Emerson’s “Self-Reliance” Reread and identify - 2 passages that amaze, inspire, excite - 2 passages that confuse, puzzle, provoke Bio of R.W. Emerson - 2 details that are most revealing of his work


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