By context and style alone, could one identify another poem by Emily Dickinson?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I personally think that if you have read a lot of Dickinson's work you would be able to identify one of her poems quite easily. Her work is so distinctive as poetry that once you have read a few it becomes easy to see how the rest adopt similar stylistic and structural patterns. You might find it interesting to note that Dickinson wrote a number of her poems to be written on cards to go with gifts, and this clearly resulted in a series of poems that were on the whole short and pithy, almost like a puzzle that needs to be thought about and contemplated.

Stylistically, apart from the general brevity of her poems, you can also look at her use of slant rhyme or half rhyme, which was her habit of making a rhyme out of two words that do not completely rhyme, such as "slant" and "delight" in "Tell all the truth":

Tell all the truth but tell it slant,
Success in circuit lies,
Too bright for our infirm delight
The truth's superb surprise

This use of half rhyme is something that often is used to point towards the incompleteness of what she is writing about.

Lastly, when we think about Dickinson we remember that her life was incredibly reclusive. Therefore the majority of her poems explore internal states or are observations on nature. She does not often write about other people and events, rather choosing to delve psychologically into various feelings and also thinking a lot about death. These are just some of the ways that her work is distinguished from other poets.


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