Critical opinion of emily dickinson s poems
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What are other people saying about Dickinson?. Say anything nasty and you’re dead!. Critical opinion of Emily Dickinson’s poems. 6 th May 2014. Objective. To understand critical viewpoints of Emily Dickinson’s poems It is not worth spending hours learning critical

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Critical opinion of emily dickinson s poems

What are other people saying about Dickinson?

Say anything nasty and you’re dead!

Critical opinion of Emily Dickinson’s poems

6th May 2014


  • To understand critical viewpoints of Emily Dickinson’s poems

    It is not worth spending hours learning critical

    quotations but, if you can use one in your

    answer, it is worth doing.

Key comments
Key Comments

  • On ‘A Bird came down the walk’:

    “’A Bird came down the walk’ shows the

    disturbance caused by human encroachment on

    the world of nature“

    "Dickinson accomplishes the contrast despite the

    ironical observation that the bird in nature, the beautiful

    bird, commits the violent act of biting a worm in half and

    eating it raw, whereas the frightening of the bird and the

    disruption of nature occurs with the gentle, kind act of

    offering the bird crumbs" (both Lorcher).

Key comments1
Key Comments

  • On ‘After great pain, a formal feeling comes-’:

    “Its three stanzas faintly shadow forth three

    stages of a familiar ceremony: the formal

    service, the tread of pallbearers, and the final

    lowering into a grave.” (Anderson)

    “The themes of violation and disorder persist

    throughout.” (Wolff)

Key comments2
Key Comments

  • On ‘I heard a fly buzz when I died’:

    “Ironically, although the final, haunting sentence

    has to do with sight, "I could not see to see-," at

    no time in the course of the poem can the

    speaker maintain an ordered visual grasp of the

    world.” (Wolff)

Key comments3
Key Comments

  • On ‘Because I could not stop for Death’:

    “The immortality that the speaker achieves for refusal to

    "stop for Death" is preceded by a recognition - that the

    subject's suitor was death: that in marrying him, as she

    presumably intended, the house or domestic sphere to

    which she would have been consigned was equivalent to a

    grave, "A swelling of the ground.“” (William Galperin)

    “'Death,' usually rude, sudden, and impersonal, has been

    transformed into a kindly and leisurely gentleman.”


Key comments4
Key Comments

  • On ‘My life has stood – a loaded gun’:

    “The idea that God uses human beings as

    instruments for his inscrutable and often violent

    intentions seems a properly heretical Dickinson

    premise, but it founders on the paradox of the

    concluding stanza, where the owner is declared

    to be mortal, and the gun, although deathless, is

    also lifeless on the owner's disappearance.”


General quotes
General Quotes

  • Even the best critical writing on Emily Dickinson underestimates her. She is frightening. To come to her directly from Dante, Spenser, Blake, and Baudelaire is to find her sadomasochism obvious and flagrant. Birds, bees, and amputated hands are the dizzy stuff of this poetry. Dickinson is like the homosexual cultist draping himself in black leather and chains to bring the idea of masculinity into aggressive visibility.

  • Emily Dickinson is the female Sade, and her poems are the prison dreams of a self-incarcerated, sadmomasochisticimaginist. When she is rescued from American Studies departments and juxtaposed with Dante and Baudelaire, her barbarities and diabolical acts of will become glaringly apparent. Dickinson inherits through Blake the rape cycle of The Faerie Queene. Blake and Spenser are her allies in helping pagan Coleridge defeat Protestant Wordsworth.

  • Richard Chase declares, "No great poet has written so much bad verse as Emily Dickinson." He blames the Victorian cult of little women for the fact that "two thirds of her work" is seriously flawed: "Her coy and oddly childish poems of nature and female friendship are products of a time when one of the careers open to women was perpetual childhood." Dickinson's sentimental feminine poems remain neglected by embarrassed scholars. I would maintain, however, that her poetry is a closed system of sexual reference and that the mawkish poems are designed to dovetail with those of violence and suffering.

    All from Camille Paglia, in Sexual Personae (1990)