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Emily Dickinson from PPT

Emily Dickinson
Realism Rationality, objectivity, realistic presentation of human nature and experience, truthful treatment of material, factuality common, ordinary life, function of environment in shaping character

A great American poetess in the realistic period:Her life : Born and spent her life in Amherst, Massachusetts, a small Calvinist village Never married, led an unconventional life that was outwardly uneventful but was full of inner intensity Deeply loved nature Spent the latter part of her life as a recluse the most solitary literary figure of her time, almost unpublished, but created some of the greatest American poetry of the 19th century and has fascinated the public since the 1950s, when her poetry was rediscovered. Ranked with Whitman as the harbinger of modern American poetry, she wrote altogether 1,775 poems, of which only seven had appeared during her lifetime. Her Poetic Style allegorical symbolic personification to vivify some abstract ideas laconic brevity, directness and plainness in language Poetic Form Unique and unconventional No titles, Poetic Themes religion death

lyrical transcendental variety, subtlety (trickness) and richness in meaning creativity and imagination

Capital letters Ballad in form

Abundant dashes Use of a persona

immortality love


Dickinson’s simply constructed yet intensely felt, acutely intellectual writings take as their subject issues vital to humanity: the agonies and ecstasies of love, sexuality, the unfathomable nature of death, the horrors of war, God and religious belief, the importance of humor, and musings on the significance of literature, music, and art. Dickinson often used variations of meters common in hymn writing, especially iambic tetrameter (eight syllables per line, with every second syllable being stressed). She frequently employed off-rhymes(/partial rhymes). Dickinson used common language in startling ways, a strategy called defamiliarization. This technique would, as she put it, “distill amazing sense / From ordinary Meanings” and from “familiar species.” Dickinson’s short poetic lines, condensed by using intense metaphors and by extensive use of ellipsis (the omission of words understood to be there), contrasted sharply with the style of her contemporary Walt Whitman, who used long lines, little rhyme, and irregular rhythm in his poetry. Dickinson ’s poetry is a reflection of her experience, education, society and her age. She had a tendency to look inwardly (Calvinistic). She had an uneasy balance of faith and skepticism. Although she believes in immortality, she is ambivalent about the possibility of achieving it. She has a sense of both the inherent beauty and the frightening coldness of the world (Calvinistic). She believes in the unity of beauty, truth and goodness (Emersonian). Dickinson ’s poetry has its outstanding characteristics: telling images, suggestive and connotative, sometimes incomprehensible a severe economy of expression

direct and plain words (Anglo-Saxon origin), simple syntax faulty grammar no regular rhythm, at most off or slant rhymes (imperfect rhyme) meters common to Protestant hymn books unusual capitalization unusual use of punctuation marks, for example, dash. Some of her representative poems "A Bird came down the Walk -- " "I died for Beauty -- but was scarce" "Because I could not stop for Death --" Because I could not stop for Death— 因为我不能为死神止步 Because I could not stop for Death— He kindly stopped for me— The Carriage held but just Ourselves— And Immortality. We slowly drove—He knew no haste And I had put away My labor and my leisure too, For His Civility— We passed the School, where Children strove At Recess—in the Ring— We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain— We passed the Setting Sun— Or rather—He passed Us— The Dews drew quivering and chill— For only Gossamer, my Gown— My Tippet—only Tulle—

"A narrow Fellow in the Grass" "I heard a Fly buzz -- when I died --" "Essential Oils --- are wrung --"

死神慈祥地为我驻足。 马车上只装着我们, 和不朽。

我们徐徐而行。他从不赶忙。 出于对他的礼貌 我收起我的工作 还有我的闲暇。 我们路过学校,休息时间 儿童们在操场玩耍。 我们路过田野; 我们路过夕阳—— 确切地说,是他路过我们 露珠开始战栗,变得寒冷, 我们只披着薄纱长袍。 配着丝网披肩。 在一座从地面隆起的 房子前,我们稍事休息。 几乎见不到屋顶, 檐口在地里。 已经有几个世纪了, 感觉却比一天还短 ——我开始猜想着马车 正驶向永恒

We paused before a House that seemed A Swelling of the Ground— The Roof was scarcely visible— The Cornice—in the Ground— Since then—‘tis Centuries—and yet Feels shorter than the Day I first surmised the Horses' Heads Were toward Eternity—

Appreciation: Can you give a summary for each stanza? The first stanza is when Death stops for her; the second, she is observing Death as a person; the third, she sees the passages of life;

the fourth, the grave; and the last stanza is a glimpse of an existence without time

Meter (rhythm) The first and third lines of each stanza are in iambic tetrameter, and the second and fourth lines are in iambic trimeter. A ballad form.

This gives a tone of calm and doesn't detract from the subject but makes it all seem much more palatable than the subject of death normally is (Greenberg 218). The one break with the syllabic pattern is the last line, which has one extra syllable. The effect of this is to suggest eternity that does go on. Each line ends with a stressed syllable, which functions to stop the reader to consider each line. Class Discussion Study Questions: 1) According to stanza 1, why did Death stop for the speaker? What did Death's carriage hold? What is the mystical relationship between Death and immortality? What do lines 1-2 suggest about human behavior? Death stopped because the speaker could not stop for death when she was still living. Death‘s carriage held just Death, the speaker, and Immortality. Immortality was with death. Therefore when the persona was riding towards death, she was also walking towards immortality. They suggest the reluctance with which human beings meet death. 2) What three things did the speaker and Death pass in stanza 3? What do they possibly represent? They passed a school, fields of gazing grain, and the setting sun. The school could represent her youth; the fields, her maturity of adulthood; the setting sun, her old age. 3) Who is “He” in the first line of stanza 4? The Setting Sun. 4) In stanza 5, what is the "House" in the ground? Is this the speaker's final destination? The House is a grave or a crypt(地穴). No. The speaker's final destination is eternity or immortal life. 5) Why does the day described seem so long to the speaker? On that day her whole life on earth flashed before her eyes and she first understood eternity. The experience of death was a moment of epiphany that was longer than several centuries and in this process of death, she gets to know herself as well as the world better. Therefore this process is a lasting and unforgettable one. On the other hand, once she was in her eternal resting place and became immortal, time became meaningless. It is important to notice the present tense in this poem: it’s centuries, feels shorter. Present tense indicates immortality 6) What’s the theme of the poem? It reveals that death comes unexpectedly and brings us to eternity. She reveals a devout faith in immortality, but also recognizes the mixed feelings human beings have toward death. The overall theme of the poem seems to be that death is not to be feared since it is a natural part of the endless cycle of nature. Her view of death may also reflect her personality and religious beliefs. On the one hand, as a spinster, she was somewhat reclusive and introspective, tending to dwell on loneliness and death. On the other hand, as a Christian and a Bible reader, she was optimistic about her ultimate fate and appeared to see death as a friend. Although the poem is a source of considerable controversy, there are several fundamental ideas on which most critics agree. First of all, most critics accept that Dickinson personifies Death as a gentleman taking the speaker for a ride in his carriage. Second, the three images presented in the third stanza, the children "in the Ring" (490), the "Fields of Gazing Grain" (490) and the "Setting Sun" (490) indicate the stages of life, from childhood to maturity to old age and death. Third, the speaker's garments of "Gossamer" and "Tulle" (490) indicate to many critics that she could not have been expecting the carriage ride to last forever when she set out, as she "does not even have the foresight to dress warmly" (Bernhard). Fourth, the "House that seemed / A Swelling of the Ground -" (490) represents a grave. Fifth, the last two lines, "I first surmised the Horses' Heads / Were toward Eternity -" seem to mean that the soul is eternal in spite of death. 7) What kind of view do you have about life, death and immortality after reading this poem? Some other poems concerning death and immortality

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