Inspiration and Manipulation Essay

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Inspiration and Manipulation Emily Dickinson is a poet of great interest because she is one of a handful of artists that “refuse to conform to the Anglo-American literary traditions” (Howe 11). One of the most fascinating aspects of Emily Dickinson’s character is that she willingly shuts her door to the world which ultimately allows her creativity to thrive without criticism. While historical documents allow contemporary readers insight into her life and provide potential reasons for her seclusion, but the best reflection of Dickinson’s character is found in her poetry. Dickinson’s poetry creates a paradox because her intentions are only seen through her critics. This makes it difficult to fully understand what Dickinson really meant …show more content…
The reader must understand that Dickinson was surrounded by other poets that thought, as Wallace Stevens once stated, “Poetry is a Scholar’s art” (15). Then, Dickinson might ask, “What is a scholar?” Well, she could tell you how they would define it. A scholar is a male, a scholar is powerful, and a scholar is not Emily Dickinson. Why then do not all people question this definition as Dickinson does? In 1864, Dickinson wrote this poem:

This Chasm, Sweet, upon my life I mention it to you, When Sunrise through a fissure drop The Day must follow too.

If we demur, it’s gaping sides Disclose as ‘twere a Tomb Ourself am lying straight within The favorite of Doom

When it has just contained a Life Then, Darling, it will close And yet so bolder every Day So turbulent it grows

I’m tempted half to stitch it up With a remaining Breath I should not miss in yielding, though To Him, it would be Death –

And so I bear it big about My Burial – before A Life quite ready to depart Can harass me no more – (Howe 16)

In this poem, definitions slip silently into alternative positions, redefining and allowing the mind to meander like water over slick rocks. Susan Howe compares and contrasts Dickinson’s actual social surroundings to how Dickinson chose to view them, questioning: “In 1864 was marriage Epithalamion or entrapment? Is Death a soothing mother or a mastiff-father? Is Awe
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