Emily Dickinson Discussion Topics

Discussion Topics

(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Emily Dickinson lived a life constrained in many respects. What liberating experiences of her life—including self-created ones—contributed materially to her poetry?

How have editors of Dickinson’s poetry both obscured and clarified what she actually wrote?

Examine three or four Dickinson poems with a theme of love. What particular effects of imagery and tone distinguish these poems?

Repeat the above process with respect to poems on the theme of death.

What factors account for the inclusion of weakly sentimental poems in her canon? Would the publication history of her poems be one of these factors?

Dickinson’s favorite stanza is basically that of many familiar hymns of her time. What differences in rhythm and phrasing do you note between the hymns and her poems?

Compare the different versions of “Safe in Their Alabaster Chambers.” Is it possible to determine the direction her revisions took or in fact which versions are revisions?