Emily Dickinson's Fascicle 17 Essay

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Emily Dickinson's Fascicle 17 Approaching Emily Dickinson’s poetry as one large body of work can be an intimidating and overwhelming task. There are obvious themes and images that recur throughout, but with such variation that seeking out any sense of intention or order can feel impossible. When the poems are viewed in the groupings Dickinson gave many of them, however, possible structures are easier to find. In Fascicle 17, for instance, Dickinson embarks upon a journey toward confidence in her own little world. She begins the fascicle writing about her fear of the natural universe, but invokes the unknowable and religious as a means of overcoming that fear throughout her life and ends with a contextualization of herself within…show more content…
The last two lines of the poem are a timid reflection on what might happen “Had I the Art to stun myself/ With Bolts—of Melody!” (23-24). The idea that creation is a power that can get loose and injure even the creator illuminates why in this poem the artist positions herself firmly as a mere spectator. In these first two poems, we meet a Dickinson who is not entirely familiar to us—even though we are accustomed to her strong desire for privacy, these poems can be startling in the way they reveal the intensity of Dickinson’s fears. She is, after all, shrinking from what is dearest to her—nature, one of her favorite subjects, becomes a harsh judge, and poetry, her favored medium of communication, can suddenly render the reader “impotent” and the writer “stun[ned]” (19, 23). The extremity of her positions in shrinking from the small and beautiful things she loves creates the sense that this is just the beginning of a journey by leaving so much room for change. The change begins in the next poem, “He touched me, so I live to know”. This “He”, presumably God, has the effect of calming Dickinson’s myriad small fears. She tells us, “I groped opon his breast--/It was a boundless place to me/And silenced, as the awful Sea/Puts minor streams to rest,” (2-5). At first it may seem that the “silenced” applies to Dickinson here—that this masculine God has taken away even more of her confidence in her own voice (4). When considered with the rest of the

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