LITERARY TREND AND AUTHOR CANON
Influenced by the Transcendentalist movement and by certain Romantic poetry features;
Transcendentalist features in Dickinson’s poetry:
Literary Form – the volume belongs to no particular form of poetry
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;
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:
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:
Short stanzas (quatrains – 4-verse stanzas), short lines, the rhyming on the second and fourth lines;
Predominant rhythm – iambic
Types of metric feet:
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;
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”
*The assonance of the vowel “o” imparts a sense of openness.
*The verse also contains the consonance of “k”.