Dickinson: Ralph Waldo Emerson and Dickinson a Poet Essay

Submitted By bgoodman95
Words: 427
Pages: 2

Emily Dickinson A poet who took definition as her province, Emily Dickinson challenged the existing definitions of poetry and the poet’s work. Like writers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Davis Thoreau, and Walt Whitman, she experimented with expression in order to free it from conventional restraints. She crafted a new type of persona for the first person. The speakers in Dickinson’s poetry are sharp-sighted observers who see the inescapable limitations of their societies as well as their imagined and imaginable escapes. Emily Dickinson has a few different themes that occupied her poetry, one of which is suffering. “Emily displays an obsession with pain and suffering; there is an eagerness in her to examine pain, to measure it, to calculate it, to intellectualize it as fully as possible. In Dickinson’s poem 241, she states, “I like a look of Agony” (Dickinson 1138). The speaker in this poem values truth above all else. For this reason, she prefers to see someone in agony, because she knows they aren’t pretending, since people, according to her, do not fake convulsions or fits. Dickinson is not just talking about normal agony, though – she is concerned with that agony which precedes death, because this of all things is “Impossible to feign” (Dickinson 1138). The gazing of the eyes, the drops of sweat on the forehead, are the physical remnants of the agony preceding death, which even the best actor cannot fake. Throughout Emily Dickinson’s lifetime she only had one literary critic, Thomas Wentworth Higginson. In 1862, Dickinson read an article in The Atlantic Monthly by Higginson; it was full of advice for struggling writers. Dickinson believer that she was in need of an objective critic to assess the literary merit of her