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Emily Dickinson


Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)
Facts of life: Emily Dickson was a brilliant poet in American literature. She had written 1775 poems in her life, but only 7 published in her life time. She studied at Amherst Academy, but she refused to observe its religious customs. And then she dropped out. When she is in her twenties, Dickson’s character changed because of love. Once a fun, fiercely intelligent, young woman, she changed into a nun in white. And thus she stayed almost all her life in the same yard and she never married. She respected Thomas Wentworth, a prominent literary critic, and often sent him her poems, yet never obeyed him, very stubborn. She died as peaceful as she had described in her poem and only left two words “called back” for her family. Poetic Style: Dickinson is a forerunner, by more than fifty years, of modern poetry. She was at the tail of the Romantic period which may exert some influence on her. However, her writing embodies the defining characteristics of realism. Her poetic style covers: 1. Plain words, simple syntax 2. False grammar 3. Unusual capitalization and punctuation 4. Personal and meditative Major works: “I’m Nobody ” “Success is Counted Sweetest ” “ To Make a Prairie” “Because I Could not Stop for Death”(death) “A Bird Come Down the Walk”(nature) “Wild Nights——Wild Nights”(love) “I Died for Beauty ” Themes in her poems: 1. The first one is nature. Dickinson was familiar with nature intimately and described in a minute way. Nature is benevolent and pleasant, but also cruel and indifferent. 2. The second is death, which takes a large proportion in her poems. There were some important friends in her life, such as Benjamin Newton and Charles Wadsworth, who are Emily’s “tutors”. They died before Emily, which made her very sad and close to the feeling of death. 3. The third is love. Although she remained single until her death, she undoubtedly experienced the sweetness and bitterness of love. She was eager to love, which could be seen from her description of the happy time of lovers. 4. The fourth one is eternity. She thought that the eternity was the combination of Truth and Beauty. 5. Another is religion. She wrote about her doubt and belief about religious subjects. The features of Emily’s poems: 1. In forms of her poems, the most obvious feature of her pomes is no titled. She had written over 1,700 poems, none of them had a title. They are named by numbers and quoted by the first line. 2. Another is that dashes are used as a musical device to create cadence. There are many dashes in her poems, the number of which is much more than commas and full points. 3. Her poems are usually short, rarely more than twenty lines, and many of them are centered on a single image or symbol and focused on one subject matter. Her poetic idiom is noted for its laconic brevity, directness and plainness. 4. The basic tone of her poems is tragic, because Calvinism with its doctrine of predestination and its pessimism pressured her during her children and adolescence and colored her work.


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