Emily Dickinson American Literature Analysis
Critics of Dickinson’s verse generally note that the poems incorporate one or more of the following themes: death, love, religion, nature, eternity. This observation, of itself, does not take into account the amazing thematic combinations she managed or the extraordinary variety of poetic voices she employed. These range from the almost embarrassing cuteness of poems such as 61 (“Papa above!”) or 288 (“I’m Nobody! Who are you?”) to the skepticism of 338 (“I know that He exists.”) and the passion, with intended or accidental double meaning, of 249 (“Wild Nights—Wild Nights!”).
Some of her poems are high serious meditations, such as 258 (“There’s a certain Slant of light”); others amount to waspish commentary, such as 401 (“What Soft—Cherubic Creatures—”). That she could see herself as a nobody, a seething volcano, a mouse, or a loaded gun all within the compass of several hundred poems is an indication of the variety of unconventional metaphor she used.
Even more astonishing is the fact that her style undergoes no linear development. Many of the early poems are as excellent as the later ones; bathetic and coy elements also appear throughout the collection. Absence of end-line punctuation creates enjambments that run for full stanzas, while dashes often create a hiatus at mid-line or end.
Early critics ascribed these eccentricities to Dickinson’s inability or unwillingness to punctuate (a...
(The entire section is 6166 words.)
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