Posted at 11.15.2018
Emily Dickinson is a great American poet in 19th century, and she actually is as important as Whitman. She is regarded as the forerunner of imagism. The initial images and the special way of making these images, including wording, polishing, and the tempo are her exceptional features. She made great adding to American books. This paper talks about her poetry in terms of the image of poetry and the design of her writing.
Key Words: image; wording; rhetorical devices; rhythm
It is widely decided that Emily Dickinson was one of the biggest poets of America. She actually is also the most secret girl in American literature. She left us 1800 poems, however, when she was alive, only 7 poems was published. After her death, her sister shared her poems. This collection provoked discomfort in American. Many critics started to study on her behalf poetry. They thought her poetry got the features of modernism and imagism. However in China, it wasn't until 1970s that the studies on Emily Dickinson were started out, and most the researches were in conditions of only one angle-the context or the proper execution. I think that's not enough. So this time I choose to review her poetry from two aspects, the images and the ways to create the images.
She was created in Amherst, Massachusetts, in 1830. And everything her life, she have been there living a isolated life, so she was called "the Num of the Amherst"(Martin, 2004:9). She inserted into Support Holyoke Female Seminary in South Hadley, but severe homesickness led her to return home after twelve months. After that, she started out her monastic life. She does nothing but gardening, writing poems and doing a little housework. She was a very sensitive woman, and acquired a plentiful internal world. In her poems, she proved us an original, different and colorful world. Nowadays, she used her creativeness conveying us her own thoughts and understanding about dynamics, life, love, death. Although she never stated her ideas of poetry-writing, her thoughts and opinions relating to this aspect exactly like brilliant pearls dispersed in her characters and poems. "If I read a reserve and it creates my whole body so frigid, no fire can ever warm me, I know that is poetry. EASILY feel physically as if the most notable of my head were removed, I know that is poetry. " (Martin, 2004:11)Dickinson emphasized intuition, personal recollecting of inspirational occasions. She also considers that only through what which are packed with images, intense feelings can be stirred up. Her poems are usually in free verse. In addition to such characteristics as the considerable use of dashes, and unusual and frequently idiosyncratic punctuation and capitalization, her setting of manifestation is characterized by clear-cut and delicately original imagery, specific diction, and fragmentary and enigmatic metrical routine. Her style of creation coincided with the imagists. So, many imagists regard her as the forerunner of imagism. She treasured reading, and the Bible and Shakespeare are her professors, and Emerson also has influence on her. When she was alive, only 7poems were posted. However, after her death, 1800 poems were found.
In Emily Dickinson's poems, both theme and the design of construction screen her imagination and originality on the way of writing poems. Her family, faith, and Emerson all affected her creation.
In the poems that Emily remaining to us, there are a great number of ones describing mother nature or using aspect as the background. And many people consider that these poems that are related to dynamics are the most successful. For Emily Dickinson, dynamics is her religious sustenance. She lived an isolated life, but put all her emotion on nature. Through the starry sky, landscape, sunshine and moon to the bugs, birds and family pets, everything is the topics which she glorified. Her observation is careful, that's because she treasured it deeply. She was competent at portraying an image in a twisted way. Now, please appreciate the following poem:
A Bird Arrived down the Walk-
He didn't know I saw-
He bit an Angleworm in halves
And ate the fellow, fresh,
And then he drank a Dew
From a convenient Grass-
And then hopped sidewise to the Wall
To let a Beetle pass-
He glanced with rapid eyes
That hurried all around-
They looked like frightened Beads, I thought-
He stirred his Velvet Head
Like one in peril, Cautious,
I offered him a Crum
And he unrolled his feathers
And rowed him softer home-
That Oars divide the Ocean,
Too magic for a seam-
Or Butterflies, off Banks of Noon
Leap, plashless as they swim.
Through careful observation and portrait of details, the poet drew lively picture of a lovely little bird trying to find food. "And hopped sidewise to the wall membrane/To let a beetle go away. " This series outlined the bird's vividness. Poet's outlook on characteristics was also discovered in this poem. In the forth stanza, the poet desire to be near the bird, so she "offered him a crumb", but "he like one in peril, cautiousAnd he unrolled his feathers/And rowed him softer home". The parrot becomes an emblem for the quick, lively, ungraspable wild essence that distances nature from human beings who desire to appropriate or tame it. Essentially the most remarkable feature of this poem is the imagery of its final stanza, in which Dickinson provides one of the most breath-taking explanations of flying in poetry. From this picture, we can easily see the poet wanted to establish relationship and understanding with characteristics. However, the results works counter to the purpose, mother nature symbolized by the parrot refused her goodwill. There continues to be hurdle between them. Though a straightforward poem, Emily gave us enlightenment: Maybe humans should try to find a much better way to get along with nature, so the harmony between nature and human can be achieved.
Except the family pets, the plant life, like trees and shrubs, bluebell, lotus, rose, daffodils, violet and strawberry have all experienced her poetry. In her point of view, people was one part of aspect, only if we know all about character, can we realize about ourselves. She also considered the nature as the representation of human center. Therefore, in one hands, she sang of characteristics; on the other palm, she also provided the frightening side of nature, just as the next poem: No. 1624
Apparently without surprise
To any happy Flower,
The Frost beheads it at its play-
In accidental power-
The blonde Assassin passes on-
The Sunshine proceeds unmoved
To strategy off another Day
For an approving God.
"The Frost" injured "the happy blossom" inadvertently. However, "the Sun" was unmoved, and doing nothing but fulfilling his responsibilities indifferently. Is that really no surprise? Actually, it ought to be surprising. Therefore the first lines used irony. Definitely, Emily had not been only talking about the eyesight, but also expressing her sense. The natural happening alluded that the culture was indifferent to barbarity.
There are also many poems on natural phenomena. For example, the alternation of the seasons, the rotation between life and fatality, the climb and street to redemption of the tide, and sunset and sunrise. Some typically common things exhibited indubitable, real beauty which had never been found by common people. She liked to web page link the various images and endow them a fresh meaning. You are able to feel this in poem, No. 214:
I tastes Liquor never brewed-
From tankards scooped in pearl-
Not all the vats upon the Rhine
Yield such an alcohol!
Inebriate of air am-I-
And debauchee of dew-
Reeling-through endless summer time days-
From inns of molten blue-
When landlords change the drunken bee
Out of the foxglove's door-
When butterflies renounce their drams-
I shall but drink a lot more!
Till seraphs golf swing their snowy hats-
And saints to house windows run-
To start to see the little tippler-
Leaning against the sun!
Emily originally compared nature to liquor, the "I" in the poem drink heavily "the liquor" and immersed in the state of hawaii of being drunk with it. "I" was joyful because of intoxicating with the wonder of characteristics.
In poem No. 50, "I started Early-Took My Dog", poet made the sea as the theme, use metaphor and personification, and show the charm of the ocean also a potential turmoil. Furthermore, the quotation of the storyline about mermaids made the poem more graphic. Another example, in poem No. 1148, she told us "Yesterday is old", now is a new start. A good and hopeful feeling passes through the entire poem, which gave readers a happy feelings.
2. 1. 2 The love theme
As I said before, Emily Dickinson is a very sensitive girl and her poetry is made up of deep sentiment. It's especially in her love poems, a few of which are crazy with joy, but some of them are grief-stricken. In her love poetry, there are sprouting love, excited love and gradually fading love. She said love straightforwardly, but I still feel fresh. She never married all her life, maybe just because of the, she was always keeping the beautiful creativeness about love.
She thought determination is essential to love. In the next poem, No. 249, you will get the evidence.
WILD nights-Wild evenings!
Was I with thee?
Wild evenings should be
To a center in port-
Done with the compass-
Done with the graph!
Rowing in Eden-
Ah! The sea!
Might I but moor
To-night in thee!
This poem is the imagination to be with her enthusiast. "Our love" is enthusiastic just like "Wild Night", "the sail boat" and "the ocean" is the image of fans. Eden is the paradise of buffs, and it symbolizes the sweetness love. Poet use both lines "Rowing in Eden/. . . To-night in thee" to show that they achieved the perfect status of love. All of these were embodied in her strong emotion and her heart of devotion to love.
In the same manner, Dickinson also used original images like the first two stanzas in poem No. 754:
My life has stood-a Leaden Gun-
In Corners-till a Day
The Owner passed-identified-
And transported Me away-
And now We roam in Sovereign Woods-
And now We hunt the Doe-
And every time I speak for Him-
The Mountains right reply-
Dickinson developed a unique new method of her own. She likened a "Loaded Firearm" to the disposition of waiting eagerly for lover's arriving. In this particular poem, love isn't delicate any longer. When her lover turned up before her, the constrained emotion would be activated off at at any time. It expresses the longing for love exactly. Inside the poem No. 549:
That I did always love
I bring thee proof
That till I loved
I didn't love enough-
That I will love always
I offer thee
That love is life
And life hath immortality
This, dost thou hesitation, sweet,
Then have I
Nothing to show
She said "That love is life-". Dickinson combines the love and death, and she thought life is beautiful, love is most important; life and loss of life depended on each other. ; only through "Calvaries" of love, we can be immortal and achieve new marriage. Love transcend the loss of life, and become a firm belief which endure her life, distillate her spirit and enrich her poems.
2. 1. 3 Fatality and life
In Emily's poetry, there are 600 written with the fatality as theme. They are the serious thoughts of the partnership between death and life, loss of life and eternity. So I put both themes together. Please browse the following lines:
A word is dead
When it is said-
I say it just
Begins to live
For Emily Dickinson, fatality is no ending, it's a new beginning. Fatality is another form of life. People dealing with it when these were blessed. Life and death can not be departed, because they're united entirety.
Emily experienced the death bravely, for she got known plainly the fact of fatality. In her poems of death, the view of death is completely and clearly revealed. Especially in the poem "Because I could not stop for Death-". It's has biggest achievement. Please browse the first stanza:
Because I could not stop for Death-
He kindly halted for me-
The Carriage performed but just Ourselves-
Death is just personified as a people picking her up and choosing her. From here we can easily see her calmness when she is confronted with fatality.
We little by little drove, he understood no haste-
And I had formed put away
My labor, and my leisure too
For his civility-
They don't be quick. Along with the poet requite loss of life with putting away her labor and leisure. Apparently, she has regarded as death as her good friend.
We passed the school, where children played-
At wrestling in a ring-
We passed the areas of gazing grain-
We approved the setting up sun-
In this stanza, the paralism implies that poet has a solid attachment to life, so the follow:
Or somewhat, be passed Us-
The Dews grew quivering and chill-
For only Gossamer-my Gown-
My Tippet-only Tulle-
We paused before a house that seemed
A swelling of the ground-
The roofing, was scarcely visible-
The cornice, but a mound-
Since then, it is hundreds of years but each-
Feels shorter than the day-
I first surmised the horses' heads,
Were toward Eternity-
The vigor and uproar of life relocated her. Someone's life is long, but another is brief, and all are limited. So before death comes to pick us up, we should perish our lives. Maybe this is exactly what Dickinson wished to tell us through this poem. This poem is loss of life in her imagination. Not merely has Emily the initial imagination on death, she also experienced the loss of life of family members and friends. Therefore, there are still some poems about real fatality. Within the poem "I've seen a Dying Eye",
I 've Seen a Dying Eye
Run round and round a Room-
In search of something-as it seemed-
Then cloudier become-
And then-obscure with fog-
And then-be soldered down.
Without disclosing what it be.
'T were blessed to own seen-
In this poem, loss of life is uncertain. And at the beginning, the eye is looking for something but we don't know very well what he's looking for, because only the dying people has this feeling. Death is unavoidable. What is it possible to see when you are dying? How about after death? Many of these the alive people couldn't know. Maybe only when a person is dying, she or he would understand the real meaning of life.
Emily's poetry broke through the traditions not only in conditions of image, but also just how of construction, like the wording and the rhetorical devices, the using of punctuation and the rhythm.
2. 2. 1 The lexical framework and the rhetorical devices
A Rout of Evanescence-
With a revolving Wheel-
A Resonance of Emerald-
A Hurry of Cochineal-
And every Blossom on the Bush
Adjusts its tumbled Head-
The mail from Tunis, probably
An easy Morning's Ride-
The first perception is that the poet runs on the group of words representing various images. One of the most novel thing is using the colour to spell it out the sound and movements. The picture burst into vividness at once. In this manner linking hearing, view, smelling, tasting and sense is recognized as synaesthesia. But just getting the lovely images can't tell us what the mysterious poem is portraying. Actually it's a hummingbird. This sort of bird is sensitive and has colorful feather which reveals different colors under the sun, and a beak as slim as a needle. If they are gathering honey among flowers, they can journey frontward or backward can also hang in the air. Now, we know that this poem emphasize a sudden action, the audio of quivering the marvelous colors and the general impression which faded in a twinkling. Emily's skilled and lively wordings display her expertise here. Explaining the wings when the hummingbird flies, she used "a revolving wheel". The "Emerald" is employed to portray the sound when it's flying. And its beak is the "Rush of cochineal". Then, the result of personified flower is "Adjust tumbled Head". The final two lines likened the hummingbird as a vacationer coming and going leaving no track. Personification, metaphor, synaesthesia, and exaggeration are used very properly. A energetic and delicate bird appeared before us.
Conciseness is another feature of her poetry. Understand this poem:
Fame is a bee-
It has a song-
It has a sting-
Ah, too, it has a wing-
There are eighteen words altogether in this poem, and when exclude the repeated words, there is only eleven. No marvelous adjective, no important verbs, only five nouns work actually. They are really fame, bee, tune, sting, swing, and the sentence-pattern is easy, too. A good child can understand this poem. But it didn't fading. On the contrary, it become more charming because of its being unsophisticated. The dew-like gleaming terms conveys Emily's view about fame. Popularity has a melody also a sting, which implication of good fame and bad popularity. Fame also has a "wing" which can help you to fly; it can give you a glowing future. Personified fame is alive, so it gets uncontrollable.
If you think Emily never used rare word, her poetry maybe become too stiff. Sometimes, in order to express more powerfully. Emily Dickinson select some exceptional words, such as technological conditions, or some words from Latin. Her poems is just like a attractive young lady, after making-up, appears more beautiful. In the poem:
There is no Frigate like a book
To take us Lands away,
Nor any Coursers like a Page
Of prancing Poetry-
This Traverse may be the poorest take
Without oppress of Toll-
How frugal is the Chariot
That bears a Human soul!
A word hasn't only conceptual interpretation, but also associative meaning. Within this poem, in order to lead us into her imaginary world, Emily compared literature to various means of transportation. She picked up some words which can blend up viewers' romantic connection. If we change the "frigate" into "ship", there would be no hardships and trip; if we change "courser" into "horse", we couldn't see its prettiness, acceleration and vigorousness; in case we change "chariot" into "bus", the e book would lose its electric power, and the elegance of the whole poem would diminish.
The words in some poems have new interpretation because they're embodied with Emily's knowledge of life. Just like the words in the next lines:
The Carriage performed but just Ourselves-
Were toward Eternity-
Safe in their Alabaster Chambers-
Lie the meek people of the
In Dickinson's poems, what related to loss of life, such as "coffin", "grave", "tomb" and so forth, don't make you feel freezing, terrible and despaired any more. And "death" is like a lovely, warm and peaceful home and shelter, like "home", "chamber", "room", "inn", "door", which is longed for by tired people. And at this moment, fatality is solemn, sacred, and full of beauty, love, music. In Emily Dickinson's dictionary, fatality has new meanings.
So many poems will be the examples of Emily's skillful consumption of rhetorical devices. Such as for example poem No. 986:
A thin Fellow in the grass-
You may have met him-Did you not-
His notice rapid is-
The Grass divides as with a Comb-
A discovered shaft is seen-
And then it closes in your feet
And starts further on-
He enjoys a boggy acre,
A floor too cool for corn-
Yet whenever a child, and barefoot-
I more than once, at morn.
Have approved, I thought, a Whip-lash
Unbraiding in the Sun-
When, Stooping to secure it,
It wrinkled, and was gone-
Several of nature's people,
I know, and they know me-
I feel for these people a transport
But never found this fellow
Attended or alone
Without a tighter breathing
And zero at the bone.
Although the image depicted in this poem is a snake, we cannot see even one "snake". However, through the lifelike audio (the repetition of sound /s/), the depiction of the animal's condition (long and slender), and the setting of its moving (showing up instantly and disappearing out of the blue), combining visitors' own experience, it's not difficult to learn that the poet were describing a snake. In this particular poem, Emily completed rhetorical devices skillfully, like personification (Him), metaphor (with a comb), alliteration (A spotted shaft sometimes appears). Also, using the comb and shaft, she revealed the snake's movements when "he" was sliding in the lawn. In conditions of wording, Emily have a congrats to American literature.
2. 2. 2 The morphological structure
Emily is also well-known for using a great deal of dashes in her poems. In most cases, the dashes have three functions. The first one is to symbolize pause, change and ellipsis. The next is to make poem sounded like music. The 3rd one is expressing transcendental meditation and profound introspection. For instance, the poem: "Fame is a bee-" (We have just mentioned before). The first dash is coming after "song", and get this to line sounds like the singing lasting. The second dash is after "sting", which can make you feel being stung. It affects on sight. The third dash provides us a sense that the popularity is flying. It also works on view. Please read another short poem: "Presentiment"
Presentiment-is that long Shadow-on the Lawn-
Indicative that Suns go down-
The Notice to the startled Grass
That Darkness-is going to pass-
In the first series, there are three dashes. Not only they split the phrase by the various substances, but also form the pause in conditions of so this means. They impress indicating deeply. And as a result of three dashes, the speed of this lines decelerate, and a sense of moving steadily aroused, so that we can feel the getting close of the shadow. It seems that I am enjoying the darkness overflowing the grass over time, and a feel of suffocation dispersing in my body.
Irregular capitalization can frequently be seen in Dickinson's poetry. Capitalizing at her pleasure is another exceptional feature of Emily Dickinson. She used the irregular capitalized words in the middle of lines, breaking traditional way, so that to get an unexpected result. The capitalized words are emphasized, and drew viewers' attention. At the same time, they saved the poet's real and complex sense about life. Dickinson's unusual capitalizations are more effective than the abnormal small words. These words are exactly like drumbeats beating in my own heart, conveying the increasing and slipping of poet's head copying her tempo of sentiment. In the following poem, the capitalized words have several functions:
The Brain-is wider than the Sky-
For-put them aspect by side-
The one the other will include
With ease-and You-beside-
The Brain is deeper than the ocean,
For-hold them-Blue to Blue-
The one the other will absorb-
The Brain is merely the weight of God-
For-Lift them-Pound for Pound-
And they'll differ-if they do-
As Syllable from Sound-
The first function: emphasize, like "Brain", "Sky", "You", etc. The next: Repeat, and stress the rhythm of emotion to embody the poem with musical beauty, such as "Blue to Blue", "Pound for Pound", etc. The final one: paralism or assessment. For instance, "Sponges-Buckets-", "Syllable from Sound", etc.
Additionally, to be able to stress the theme, what which can be related to the image are capitalized. For example, "Room", "Door", "Box" will be the metaphor of grave, coffin and people's destination. They can be related to fatality, so they are simply always capitalized in the loss of life poems.
2. 2. 3 The metrical structure
In poetry, the audio is an important way of feeling the entire world and expressing emotion. Dickinson often breaks through the original rhythm to help make the words fresher. Let's appreciate her poem No. 280:
I experienced a Funeral in my own Brain,
And Mourners to and Fro
Keep treading-treading-till it seemed
That Sense was breaking through-
And when each of them were seated
A Service, just like a Drum-
Kept beating-beating-till I thought
My Brain was heading numb-
In the first two stanzas, the iambs of the first two lines are both relatively neat. However, come to the 3rd series "-treading-treading" and "beating-beating" turn up suddenly. This kind of breaking through copies the heavy footsteps of men and women carrying the coffin, and takes on up the horrible atmosphere on the funeral.
Let's go through the rhyme. Within the first stanza, the diphthongs are used, which make a gloomy, melancholy and dreary atmosphere in the poem. Among them, the short syllables and "beating-beating" cooperated, like the raindrops' striking flooded severely all the does sound. The grave becomes lethal still.
Another poem, "He fumbles at the Soul"
He fumbles at your Soul
As Players at the Keys
Before they drop full Music on-
He stuns you by degrees-
Prepares your brittle Nature
For the Ethereal Blow
By fainter Hammers-further heard-
Then nearer-Then so slow
Your breathing has period to straighten-
Your Brain-to bubble Cool-
That sealps your naked Soul-
The first 1 / 2 part uses the neat and sensible rhymes to equate to the tune played by the players. Within the last one half part, the dashes become poor and obtuse to create a horrible and strong atmosphere and make the poem and "he" becomes more incomprehensible.
Nowadays, the researches on Emily Dickinson abroad become more and more. She actually is a great poet, so that as important as Whitman to American literature. Today, we discuss the image in her poetry and the ways of her creation. However, the research about her is not enough inside our country, especially the people and the things that influenced her. For instance, the relationship between Metaphisicals, the effect Emerson has on her, even the partnership between her and Edgar Allen Poe. I hope more researches relating to this aspect can be done.