Poems Copy


Influenced by the Transcendentalist movement and by certain Romantic poetry features;

Transcendentalist features in Dickinson’s poetry:

  • Religious questions – the survival of the soul after death
  • The human soul – a source of immortality
  • Transcendental naturalism, but also terror of dissolution;
  • Faith, but also doubt
  • Themes:
    • Human perception
    • Suffering
    • Growth
    • Fulfilment
    • Nature as a source of beauty and mystery.
  • Considered by critics as a forerunner of modern poetry by 50 years
  • Developed formal innovations that later were characteristic to Modernism:
    • Broken meter
    • Unusual rhythmic patterns
    • Assonance
    • Philosophical, complex themes: life, death, existence


Literary Form – the volume belongs to no particular form of poetry



  • The theme is specific to Romanticism and to Transcendentalism (God manifests in nature) but in Dickinson’s poetry nature is both benevolent and elusive and destructive;
  • Natural scenes inspire figurative language;
  • There is a correspondence between the changing seasons and the poet’s moods;
  • The elements in nature provide the poet with material for personal visions and symbols for inner conflicts;
  • Directions in nature poems:
    • Presentations of scenes appreciated for their beauty and liveliness
    • Aspects of nature become symbolical for meaning regarding the universe and human life
  • Examples:
    • “A Bird came down the Walk”
    • “In Winter in my Room”
    • “I’ll tell you how the Sun rose”

Art and imagination

Poems in allegorical terms;

Poems are artifacts that give permanence to the fading world;

The poet achieves relief, identity, and communication through poetry;

The poet is visionary but cannot capture the final mysteries;

Poetry can open the heart of the readers to new perspectives and ideas;


  • If I shouldn’t be alive
  • This is my letter to the World
  • I died for Beauty — but was scarce

Love and friendship

Love is impossible to define and transcends the need of a definition (“That Love is all there is“)

The two themes are intertwined

Two types of love poems:

  • Passionate poems
  • Poems with a curious physical detachment


  • My life closed twice before its close
  • Elysium is as far as to
  • I never lost as much but twice

Death, immortality

Main theme of all her poems: death

The theme of death is usually linked to the other themes of Dickinson’s poems;

Attitudes towards death:

  • Death is extinction;
  • Question about soul surviving death;
  • Faith in immortality;
  • God’s concern with people’s lives and destinies.


  • This World is not Conclusion
  • I heard a Fly buzz — when I died
  • Because I Could not Stop for Death


Short stanzas (quatrains – 4-verse stanzas), short lines, the rhyming on the second and fourth lines;

Predominant rhythm – iambic

Types of metric feet:

  • Iamb: _   /  (ex: re-lax)
  • Spondee: /  / (ex: well-loved)
  • Trochee:  /  _ (ex: dark-ness)
  • Anapest: _ _  / (ex: in-com-plete)
  • Dactyl: /  _ _  (ex: mar-ma-lade)

Partial slant, or fain rhymes (violates poetic conventions intentionally)

Mostly focused on the selection of metaphors and words, not on rhyme schemes

Example: “Hope is the thing with feathers

                  That perches in the soul,

                  And sings the tune without the words,

                  And never stops at all.”

                                                           “Hope is a thing with feathers”

*The poem is an extended metaphor that associates the feeling of hope with the image of a bird.

There is an apparent simplicity and monotony, but at a closer look, the poetic style is revealed to be very complex and metaphorical;

Signature style: a blend of homely and exalted, with the effect of increasing the reader’s scrutiny of small-scale things and focus on significance of large-scale things;

Poetic imagery

  • The predominant imagery in Dickinson’s poetry is visual, as it is in most Romantic and Transcendentalist poems;
  • Specific images:
    • Nature
    • Social scenes
    • Psychological landscapes (dominant)
    • Generalized schemes
    • Allegorical scenes

Example: “A Bird Came Down the Walk” is an allegory for the different (and often opposite) worlds of nature and mankind.

Use of symbolism – real scenes and actions suggest universal ideas and emotions in addition to the scenes. The capitalisation of certain words is characteristic to Dickinson’s symbolism.

Use of assonance

Example: “Known by the knoll”

                                                “May Flower”

*The assonance of the vowel “o” imparts a sense of openness.

*The verse also contains the consonance of “k”.