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Free Essays: Impact of the Word on Dickinson

Impact of the Word on Dickinson

In Donald E. Thackrey’s essay “The Communication of the Word,” he talks about how “the power of the individual word, in particular, seems to have inspired her with nothing less than reverence” (51). Dickinson approached her poetry inductively, that is, she combined words to arrive at whatever conclusion the patterns of the words suggested, rather than starting out with a specific theme or message. Instead of purposefully working toward a final philosophical point, Dickinson preferred to use series of “staccato” inspirations (51). Dickinson frequently used words with weight in her work, and as a result her works usually cannot be grasped fully in one reading without dissecting each word individually. Often Dickinson would compile large, alternative word lists for a poetry before she would come to a decision on which word was “just right” for the impact she wished to achieve (52). For example, this poem displays Dickinson’s use of alternative, thesaurus-like lists:

Had but the tale a thrilling, typic,

hearty, bonnie, breathless, spacious,

tropic, warbling, ardent, friendly,

magic, pungent, winning, mellow


All the boys would come—

Orpheus’s sermon captivated,

It did not condemn.

Eventually, Dickinson came to rest on the word “warbling,” but one can see the meticulous care that she put into the decision on which word to use.

Another poem of Dickinson’s that shows her compositional method is “Shall I Take Thee?” the Poet Said.” In this poem, Dickinson discusses from where the power of the world comes.

“Shall I take thee?” the poet said

To the propounded word.

“Be stationed with the candidates

Till I have further tried.”

The poet probed philology

And when about to ring

For the suspended candidate,

There came unsummoned in

That portion of the vision

The word applied to fill.

Not unto nomination

The cherubim reveal.

In the preceding poem, one can see the artistic style come through her composition. The best representation of that particular idea comes from the author Donald Thackrey when he says:

It is significant that the revealed word comes “unsummoned” in a flash of intuition….and yet the implication of the poem is that the revealing of the word must be preceded by the preparatory, conscious, rational effort of probing philology…She [Dickinson] herself was well aware that inspiration, while all-sufficient when present, seldom came even to a great poet.

Essay About Love in The Love of Thee a Prism Be

Love in The Love of Thee—a Prism Be

Emily Dickinson views love with an allegorical neatness created in her poem The Love of Thee—a Prism Be. Dickinson believes that it is the prismatic quality of passion that matters, and the energy passing through an experience of love reveals a spectrum of possibilities.

In keeping with her tradition of looking at the “circumference” of an idea, Dickinson never actually defines a conclusive love or lover at the end of her love poetry, instead concentrating on passion as a whole. Although she never defined a lover in her poems, many critics do believe that the object or focal point of her passion was Charles Wadsworth, a clergyman from Philadelphia.

Throughout Emily’s life she held emotionally compelling relationships with both men and women. The differences in the prismatic qualities of each type of relationship come through in Dickinson’s prism imagery. Morris summarizes these differences in her essay:

In one [male prism] the supremacy of the patriarch informs the rituals of courtship, family, government, and religion; in the other [female prism], the implied equality of sisterhood is played out in ceremonies of romantic, familial, social, and even religious reciprocity. (103)

In her poetry, Emily represents the males as the Lover, Father, King, Lord, and Master as the women take complimentary positions to their male superiors, and many times the relationship between the sexes is seen in metaphor—women as “His Little Spaniel” or his hunting gun. The woman’s existence is only contingent to the encircling power of the man (104). It could be noted that the relationship with her father created some of the associations that Dickinson used in her work—her father being involved in government, religion, and in control of the family.

Dickinson’s linked imagery in her male love poetry focuses on suns, storms, volcanoes, and wounds (100). There are always elements of disturbance or extremes and explosive settings. There are also repeated examples of the repression of love causing storm imagery to become “silent, suppressed” volcanic activity—something on the verge of explosion or activity.

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