Dickinson - I died for beauty but was Scarce - Emily Dickinson # Socrates and Plato extolled the virtue of aesthetic beauty as transcendent – inspiring people to aspire towards godliness, while ugliness was descendent, dragging people down towards evil and Hell. Most Philosophers and artists assume that all art aspires towards the beautiful. It is through the celebration of beauty that we can escape the tawdry, the banality of ordinary pedestrian life.
A narrow fellow in the grass - Emily Dickinson # Dickinson never actually uses the word snake, to describe one of our most primal fears. Snakes have always been a fascination for humans; prevalent in creation myths of primitive religions. In most they are associated with evil - death. The snake in the Garden of Eden myth tempted Eve to eat the apple from the Tree of Knowledge and so introduced the concept of sin, forcing Adam and Eve out of Paradise into hardsip.
A Word dropped careless on a Page - Emily Dickinson # This is perhaps the most difficult of Dickinson’s poems to understand as it is wide open to divergent possibilities of interpretation. A key to meaning can be recurring or sustained motifs, linguistic references or symbols. Rita Dove, a former American poet laureate claims: “poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful,” while Susan Sontag once wrote an essay advocating “an erotics of art,”: that poetry is for lovers, not cryptologists.
Belonging and Emily Dickinson # Dickinson’s eccentric individualism has many probable causes. She was recognised as a bright clever young girl but clearly rebelled against authority including her strict austere father, her emotionally cold mother and a rigid Calvinistic religion. Though she professed a deep love and respect for her father, she wrote: * “his heart was pure and terrible” . In another letter she hopes her brother will not “stiffen up like her father but remain a human being”.
Introduction to Emily Dickinson # Emily Dickinson (1830 – 1886) an American poet is demanding to comprehend and difficult to warm to. Her poetry is experimental; different, unusual, odd, unique, eccentric – challenging, but well worth the while persisting with. Emily Dickinson, whose odd and inventive poems helped to initiate modern poetry, is an enigma, a mystery, a paradox. Paradoxically questioning, her individualistic directness shows a strong bold voice; self-assured and unyielding.
No. 83: “I gave myself to him” # This is a poem about belonging as a commitment; how seductive physical intimacy can be at first appearance but also how daily routine can erode the romance. It could be a fantasy or dream Dickinson expresses. There is no evidence that Dickinson had a consummated relationship with anyone- she never married. She did have a number of male friends, but the relationships appear platonic.
No. 82: “I had been hungry all the years.” # Dickinson is conflicted; she wants to be part of a group, yet she doesn’t want to conform. She yearns to be accepted, yet she values her individuality too much. This is also a poem about unfulfilled insatiable desires; though the persona sees a way of satisfying her cravings, she realises the futility of attempting to actually realise her intimate longings or yearnings.
*"Life is full of fanciful illusions conjured from thin air; dreams that are hostile to reality, but dwell in possibilities.** Heaven is what I cannot reach. Our expectations are often more satisfying than our achievements". *Emily Dickinson Imagination is derived from the word image, a mental picture. Our imaginations need to be stimulated with images or triggers that allow the mind to suspend reality and float through a series of random thoughts.
I’m Nobody, who are you? # Dickinson celebrated ordinary People: A recurring motif throughout literature celebrates the ordinary citizen over all others.Solon described by Juvenal as “Eloquent Solon, the Just” prioritised his laws to provide for the ordinary person over the aristocrats. Euripides in Media has the nurse comment on the High born vs commoner: “It is a bad thing to be born of a high race in a great house unruled but ruling.
This is my letter to the world - Emily Dickinson # Together with A Word dropped carelessly on a page, this poem is an example of Metapoetry – poetry that is aware of itself as a poem; how it is constructed and why it is being composed. The Thought - Fox by Ted Hughes is another good example. People write for a variety of reasons, but poetry tends to be an expression of intense personal and intimate urges.
No.161: “What mystery pervades a well!” - Dickinson Emily Dickinson contrasts a man made well with natural sources of water. Both are unfathomable. The well is a mystery because of its depth and potential for danger, it is compared variously to “a neighbour in a jar”, a “lid of glass” or the ultimate horror; “an abyss”. Nature is also unknowable, inexplicable or inscrutable because even those who are closest to it are overwhelmed by its complexity.