Emily Dickinson And The Exalted Poet
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Emily Dickinson and The Exalted Poet
The few, the proud, the poets. Poets, the select few who are so exalted by their art they consider it a mystical experience that in one poem, Emily Dickinson raises them above such trivial notions as the sun, the summer, and even the heaven of God. Though her poems don’t all center around the glory of the poet, the few that do juxtapose the poetic mission and such broad concepts as religion and her own personal dogma. Poems 569 and 1129 (“I reckon ‒ when I count at all‒” and “Tell all the Truth but tell it slant‒” respectively) like any good poetry, may be read a number of ways, most directly as a commentary on the art of poetry, with underlying commentary concerning the aforementioned issues.
Poem 569 “I reckon . . . ” ranks poetry and poets above all else in the first stanza. She blatantly prioritizes poets over nature and religion, going so far as to call the latter a “needless show.” Dickinson clearly takes issue with religion, no doubt due to a strict religious upbringing the Norton Anthology describes as reminiscent of Jonathan Edwards. This poem, written earlier than “Tell all the Truth . . . ” not only places the poet above the heaven of God, expresses a rift between Dickinson as a person and her religion. She considers the poet to be more imaginative, expressive, encompassing and inclusive. Interestingly enough, Dickinson explains the grander summer, sun, and “further heaven,” created by poets for readers, but leaves the poem quite open-ended. She closes “It is too difficult a Grace ‒ To justify the Dream‒” which seems to say the heaven of poetic creation is so lofty as to be impossible to achieve. This may parallel or comment on her own perception of the theological idea of Grace as impossible or beyond comprehension.
In poem 1129 Dickinson also seems to be primarily addressing how best to capture truth through poetry...
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