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Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson (1830-86) A Reclusive Poet of the 19th Century The Belle of Amherst The Nun of Amherst 1. life ? Emily Elizabeth Dickinson was born at the family's homestead in Amherst, Massachusetts, on December 10, 1830, into a prominent, but not wealthy, family. Her father, Edward Dickinson was a prominent lawyer in Amherst and a well respected trustee of Amherst College. ? Religion played an important role in her life. ? Dickinson was terrorized by old-fashioned sermons about

damnation(诅咒、下地狱) and the frequency of death in that age of high infant and childhood mortality(死亡率) ? Dickinson in a way was like Thoreau. She did not travel much. In 1854 she went to Washington D.C. for a short time because her father served a term in the U.S. Congress. About the same time she went to Philadelphia for a visit, enamored with(喜欢) a married clergyman, Charles Wadsworth. ? She spent her whole life in the small town of Amherst. After 1872 she scarcely ever left her own house and yard, not merely that she did not travel but that she did not go outside, but she kept in touch with her

friends through letters, short poems, and small gifts. ? Abnormally shy and retiring, she led an inactive life of a recluse. Later in her life Dickinson began to dress all in white as if she were a young schoolgirl. Dickinson never married. Her life style was eccentric. Hers was an inward life- achieve personal integrity ? Very few people knew Emily was secretly writing poetry.Only a few people with whom she corresponded ever saw any of her poems.After her death, friends and relatives found bundles of her poemswhich they edited and “corrected” and had published in installments (分期). ? Of the 1,775 poems Dickinson wrote, only 7 were published during her lifetime. Three Men in Her Life The first man – Benjamin F. Newton Her father’s apprentice in the law office before his death in 1853. He improved her literary and cultural tastes and influenced her ideas on religion. The second man – Charles Wadsworth A married minister who provided her with intellectual challenge and contact with the outside world. He may be the model for the lover in her poems. The third man – Thomas Higginson, an intelligent and sympathetic critic. At the age of 32, Dickinson sent her poems because she had a clear and

self-conscious conception of the poetic vocation. 2. Literary Influences ? The Bible ? British writers:
1 Her knowledge of Shakespeare was minute (微小的) and extremely ○

2 admired the works of John Keats and Elizabeth Barrett Browning ○ 3 but avoided the florid (华丽的) and romantic style of her time ○ 4 a deeply sensitive woman ○ 5 soulfully explored her own spirituality, often in poignant, deeply ○

personal poetry ? the poetry of Longfellow, Holmes, and Lowell. She identified with Hawthorne’s isolated, gnarled, idiosyncratic characters. 3. Major Subjects Emily Dickinson’s poetry comes out in bursts. The poems are short, many of them being based on a single image or symbol. Within her little lyrics Dickinson addresses those issues that concerned the whole human beings, which include religion, death, immortality, love, Nature. 4. Themes

A few universal themes occupied the poet: love, nature, doubt and faith, suffering, death, immortality.these John Donne has called the great granite(坚韧的) obsessions(困扰、迷念) of humankind. ? (1) religion – doubt and belief about religious subjects ? (2) death and immortalityShe often adopts the pose of having already died before she writes her lyric. ? (3) love Suffering and frustration caused by love; Though she was lonely and isolated, Emily appears to have loved deeply; ? (4) nature A fascination(魅力)with nature consumed Emily; She summed all her lyrics as “the simple news that nature told”; She loved “nature’s creatures” no matter how insignificant: the robin (知更鸟) , the sparrow (麻雀), the bee, the butterfly, the rat ,Only the serpent gave her a chill ? (5) Pain And Suffering Her last stanzas become a catalog of grief and its causes: death, want, cold, despair, exile. 5. Style (1) Poems without titles (2)directness, brevity, compact, severe economy of expression;

highly compressed (3) elliptical, Ambiguity of meaning and syntaxshy of (缺少) being exposed and she will say no more than she must(suggesting either a quality of uncertainty or one of finality). (4) capital letters and the use of dashes – emphasis (5) short poems, mainly two stanzas (6) rhetoric techniques: personification – make some of abstract ideas vivid (7) lyric highly subjective: One-fifth of them begin with "I" - she knows no other consciousness. (8) influence of Christian tradition: Biblical language and allusions(暗示) meter of hymns: 4 beats+3 beats+4 beats+3 beats stanza of 4 lines musical device to create cadence (9) new England perspectives: Puritan introspection; brevity and intensity (10) innovation in rhyme 6.Points of View on poetry ? Poetry should be powerful and touching.

? The inspiration(灵感) of the poet came from ? his inner world or intensity of his emotions ? the past literary traditions ? the noble heroes ? Like Emerson, she thought that only the real poet could understand the world. ? Truth, virtue and beauty are all the one thing. ? The most dignified beauty was embodied by the active, affirmative dignity. (----Emerson) ? Poetry should express ideas through concrete images. ? It was the poet’s duty to express abstract ideas through vivid and fresh imagery. on nature Dickinson observed nature closely and described it vividly but never with the feeling of being lost in it. She thought that nature was both kind and cruel, which was similar to Tennyson. on death She wrote about nearly 600 poems on death. Her attitude toward immortality was contradictory.

6. Works

(1) My Life Closed Twice before Its Close (2) Because I Can’t Stop for Death (3) I Heard a Fly Buzz – When I died (4) Wild Nights – Wild Nights Because I Can’t Stop for Death

? Stanza Format Each of the six stanzas has four lines. A four-line stanza is called a quatrain. ? Meter the 1st & 3rd lines: iambic tetrameter the 2nd & 4th lines: iambic trimester ? Characters ? Narrator: She is a woman who calmly accepts death.In fact, she seems to welcome death as a suitor who she plans “marry”. ? Death: The suitor who comes calling for the narrator to escort her

to eternity. ? Immortality: A passenger in the carriage. ? Children: Boys and girls at play in a schoolyard. They symbolize early life. ? Analysis and Commentary At the phonologic level

At the graphological level

At the lexical level

At the grammatical level

At the semantic level

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