What is the literary term for speaking of something that has not happened as though one is experiencing it? (One's own death, for example.)In Poem 591 by Emily Dickinson, the narrator speaks of her...

What is the literary term for speaking of something that has not happened as though one is experiencing it? (One's own death, for example.)

In Poem 591 by Emily Dickinson, the narrator speaks of her own death as though she is present, which is obviously impossible, as she is dead.  What is the name of this literary term! Thanks.

2 Answers | Add Yours

billdelaney's profile pic

William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I am not aware that there is a "literary" term for what your describe, but the most common word is precognition. My dictionary defines it as "Knowledge in advance of its occurrence." My thesaurus offers a number of synonyms, including ESP, extra sensory perception, foreknowledge, premonition, and second sight; but precognition seems the best word to answer your question.

Emily Dickinson displayed a strong interest in death and wrote many poems on the subject. If she is speaking of experiencing her own death in her Poem 591 as you describe it, I would tend to classify that as a form of "poetic license" or a "poetic conceit."

erikamathieu's profile pic

erikamathieu | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

Thank you, the word I was looking for was "Prolepsis".  The representation of something in the future as if it already existed or had occurred. 

We’ve answered 318,916 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question