Poems of Emily Dickinson

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In the poem Will There Really be a 'Morning why might Emily Dickinson have chosen to capitalize the words she did? 

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Emily Dickinson's poetry has been much criticized for its unique style, rhythm and punctuation and many of her peers were keen to "correct" and edit what they saw as poorly written attempts. Her intention was always to change perception of norms and challenge conventions and capitalization is a favorite of her strategies which invites various interpretations by readers when they tackle the often universal themes of her work. Most of her poems were unnamed which is why the first line has become the title in many of them including Will There Really Be a Morning(?).

In capitalizing the words morning, day, water, bird, scholar, sailor, wise men and pilgrim the reader can already see that nature, education and travel in so much as it contributes to education are important to her even without reading another word of this poem. Therefore, one interpretation is that she may have intended a collective understanding through these capitalized words. Together, the words assist the reader to draw a conclusion and readers should not restrict themselves to only seeing each morning as nothing more than the start of the day during which significant events may take place but rather view the morning as a significant event itself.

From this significant event so many things can be learnt if only people can open their minds and not overlook morning. By deeming morning to be a "place" it is elevated to a more conscious state because people usually remember places. If readers overlook morning, they will not be able to learn from or count themselves among the "Scholars" and "Wise Men" who share their knowledge with that "little Pilgrim" who is a humble soul waiting for inspiration and for shared knowledge. Every person on earth can share experiences and endless possibilities or create his or her own just from a recognition of the importance of the morning and its extension into the day.

Just as Dickinson places emphasis on her capitalized words she wants readers to understand that they do not have to be "Wise Men" themselves to share in experiences. In terms of her plea, readers should basically place emphasis on the seemingly unimportant aspects of their day if they want to relish their existence.

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Dickinson chose to capitalize nouns to emphasize specific nouns.

You will notice that Dickinson capitalized many words in the poem, including “Morning” and “Day.”  The words she chose are all nouns related to the tone of the poem.  The poem emphasizes daily life, and how we need to stop and celebrate it.

Has it feet like Water lilies?
Has it feathers like a Bird?
Is it brought from famous countries
Of which I have never heard?

Notice that in this paragraph the words Water and Bird are capitalized, but not “countries.”  This is because “countries” is not a specific noun.  It does not refer to a specific place.  The lilies are emphasized by the Water part of their name.  Note that “lilies” is not capitalized.  The lilies are generalized, the Water lilies are specific.  They refer to the morning and the day that Dickinson is exploring.

The poem does not have to be interpreted as helpless or hopeless.  The speaker is looking for answers from people who know (Scholar, Sailor), but this does not mean she stops looking herself.  She might be trapped in perpetual darkness, but she might just be lost in constant wonder.

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