Emily Dickinson - Appeal and Relevance

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Far from being old-fashioned and irrelevant, Emily Dickinson’s unique poetic language continues to have both an enduring appeal and universal relevance. Discuss. 4

Far from being old-fashioned and irrelevant, Emily Dickinson’s unique poetic language continues to have both an enduring appeal and universal relevance. Discuss.

The poetry of Emily Dickinson is nigh irresistible. She revels in the presentation of the unusual and unexpected. Indeed, it’s her innovative poetic language that propels Dickinson’s poetry from the past into today. Dickinson’s unconventional work has an eternal appeal, and it often casts off the restrictions of traditional punctuation. She makes use of concrete imagery and language to convey abstract ideas, ranging from joyous hope to devastating despair. There is no doubt that Dickinson is a poet of extremes. She has an undeniable transcendental power.

A Dickinson work is immediately recognisable on the page because of its unusual and erratic punctuation – her distinctive style of using dashes and capitalised letters for emphasis immediately attracts attention. This is evident in ‘I could bring you jewels – Had I a mind to’. The dash forces us to pause and think about what is being said, i.e. ‘suits me more than those’. The dash slows the poem down; it portrays an image of calm, one void of panic, thus highlighting Dickinson’s confidence that she has chosen the best gift – a flower, a symbol of nature – which is a reoccurring theme throughout Dickinson’s poetry.

A modern reader cannot fail to notice the predominance of the capital letter, a trademark of Dickinson’s work, hence it is far from archaic and unnecessary. Dickinson’s use of capitalisation is effective in enabling the reader gain an insight into the poem. Through ‘Flickering’, Dickinson emphasises the meadow flower through capitalisation...

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