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Poetry Emily Dickinson


“Emily Dickinson’s original approach to poetry results in startling and Thought-provoking moments in her work.”

Give your response to the poetry of Emily Dickinson in the light of this statement.

Support your points with suitable reference to the poems on your course.

What to look out for in Dickinson’s poetry

When you first encounter a Dickinson poem it may look very strange and unconventional.

This is good. We should value the unique and different in our world.

However, when you study Dickinson’s poetry it is quite easy to understand if you bear in mind

the following points.

1. Unconventional style- her poems look unique on the page. Notice how she uses dashes (think long pauses for thought about what has just been said or is going to be said) and capital letters to emphasise words and phrases.

2. Majority of her poems had no titles; most have become well known for their first lines.

3. Imagery is really important in Dickinson’s poems. She uses material and actual events/images to help explore the abstract ideas and emotions she has. The key idea to remember is: using the literal to explain the abstract.

4. Her poetry is concise- it is short but contains a deep level of thought and emotion. Because it is so concise each word is really important, especially those with capital letters. When reading her poetry it is important to think about what her vocabulary actually suggests.

5. Her poems are very personal (naturally knowing the life she led). But, the ideas she raises are very relevant to us all. This is where you can gain marks in an exam, by discussing how her poems are relevant to you and our society.

6. Her poems are dramatic- the moments she describes are important and interesting.

7. Overall her poetry deals with states of the mind and soul. It is intensely personal on one hand but also very relevant to anyone who reads it on the other as it deals with universal themes of the human condition.

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