Heat from within, from an inner core: that is poetry. Light from dark. No overheating, wilting, fading suns in these images.
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Rather, the body is intensely alive, alert, quiveringly awake, shivering, almost orgasmic. Operas usually consist of full orchestras, choruses, as well as soloists, with arias and recitatives that are often performed double forte to large audiences. She has it all. And whether this poem is satirical or serious, neverthe- less Dickinson writes over and over of the energy and power that emerge not from exterior sources of light, but from interior ones, from darkness.
It is in fact that which lies underground, under the surface, below external appearances, that Dickinson most values. Easy as a star, abolishing captivity. To be that wide open to the moment, oblivious to prosaic social demands and stultifying theological ones, is poetry, possibility, and perhaps even paradise.
See especially pp. Rosenbaum, ed.
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See also Barker, Lunacy of Light, especially pp. Gilbert and Susan Gubar eds. But he also equates darkness with knowledge distorted, grown monstrous and destructive. See Barker, Lunacy of Light, pp. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, Cameron, Sharon.
Capps, Jack. Cody, John. Gelpi, Albert. Emily Dickinson: The Mind of the Poet. Gilbert, Sandra M. Bloomington and London: Indiana University Press, Homans, Margaret. Women Writers and Poetic Identity. Miller, Cristanne. Mossberg, Barbara Antonina Clarke. Emily Dickinson: When a Writer is a Daughter. A closer look at her vast poetic project, however, reveals a far more complex artis- tic purpose, one that revels in both the possibilities and the impossibilities of language to evoke the experiences of life and mind.
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Dickinson, I wish to argue, constructs scenarios in verse, dramatizes the predicaments or states of mind or perceptions of imagined speakers, personae. Anguish, doubt, penury, striving are of greater value than comfort, certainty, wealth, attainment — for the former intensify expe- rience while the latter tend to numb it. But they must proceed cautiously because life is so precarious. Often, though, the dramatic rendering can be subtle and multi-leveled.
I never hear of prisons broad By soldiers battered down, But I tug childish at my bars Only to fail again! Crisis reaches climax and denouement. Here, then, in a mere eight lines, Dickinson has wrought a Blakean innocence-to-experience existential drama. Kierkegaard criticizes the Romantic poets for using their powers of creative imagination to escape into inauthentic realms of their own making.
Holyoke Seminary for Women — it placed heavy emphasis on the natural sciences. Studying nature was an important prerequisite to becoming a good Christian; a sure path to God was through intense study of His creations. And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? The existentialist thus learns to accept her intrinsically restricted reality, just as the speaker in the following poem progresses from an enthusiastic expectation of reaching heaven to an enthu- siastic acceptance of disbelief in that very expectation.
Going to Heaven! How dim it sounds! Who knows? As we soon realize, she is attending a funeral where everyone apparently is reassuring her that her recently de- ceased friends are most assuredly on their way to heaven.
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Also, why should I dress any differently than I would for home? Does not Eternity appear dreadful to you. I often get thinking of it and it seems so dark to me that I almost wish there was no Eternity. Existence precedes and is superior to essence This is the foundation of existentialist thought.
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The existentialist chooses existence over essence because the self has no empirical means of apprehending a transcendent realm. Dickinson dramatizes this principal existential condition in at least three dif- ferent ways. We are almost in the paralyzed milieu of a Samuel Beckett play.
Life must go on. There is nowhere to go. In the following dramatic monologue, the speaker suffers the anguish that comes from the growing fear that the universe may be devoid of God or divine purpose. Would not the jest — Have crawled too far! A little boat adrift! Will no one guide a little boat Unto the nearest town? So Sailors say — on yesterday — Just as the dusk was brown One little boat gave up its strife And gurgled down and down. Thought is made palpable to the senses.
In the following poem, the speaker attempts to dismantle the Emersonian- transcendentalist premise that the soul of nature and the human soul are emanations from a universal oversoul. While not quite denying the existence of such a truth, the speaker nevertheless is rendered speechless when it comes to bodies awaiting resurrection.
Some things that stay there be — Grief — Hills — Eternity — Nor this behooveth me. Can I expound the skies? How still the Riddle lies! For Dickinson, however, word and world — mind and nature — are separated by an unbridgeable gulf. One comes to terms with the reality of Death by regarding the emptiness left in its wake. Hong and Edna H.
Nature , in William H. Gilman ed. I become a transparent eyeball; I am nothing; I see all.
A Grammar of Motives. New York: Prentice-Hall, Inc. Emerson, R. Nature In William H. Gilman, ed. Selected Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson.