Emily Dickinson | Poetry Foundation

Emily Dickinson is one of America’s greatest and most original poets of all time

Emily Dickinson - Poet | Academy of American Poets

2. David Higgins, Portrait of Emily Dickinson: The Poet and Her Prose (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1967), 6–7: “The greater part of the scrap-basket collection is poetry, but there is much prose, entirely in the handwriting of Emily’s last ten years, 1876–1886. Certainly she made earlier collections: phrases and whole sentences were repeated in letters written years apart. Probably she systematically destroyed all but the last group.”

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Emily Dickinson: Iambic Meter & Rhyme « PoemShape

The Dickinson poem that Rich so presciently invoked in 1965, "My Life had stood--aLoaded Gun" (poem 754), has since then attracted diverse interpretations, especiallyfeminist interpretations. It has become the locus of discussion for feminist criticsconcerned about accounting in some way for the aggression of Dickinson's poetry, beginningwith Rich herself. In her 1975 essay "Vesuvius at Home," Rich names "MyLife had stood--a Loaded Gun--" as the "'onlie begetter"' of her vision ofDickinson, the poem Rich had "taken into myself over many years."' The languageof Rich's critical essay suggestively echoes the issues of the poems Dickinson had alreadyhaunted and would later haunt for Rich. While not explicitly violent in the way ofDickinson's loaded gun, Rich's metaphor of incorporating, eating Dickinson's poemestablishes, but only to transgress, the boundary between inside and outside. Invoking thededication to the "onlie begetter" of Shakespeare's sonnets identifiesDickinson's poem with a male literary tradition (although the overriding aim of Rich'sessay is to link Dickinson to other women writers) and identifies Dickinson herself with aphallic power (the loaded gun's power) of inseminating Rich's thoughts. It is hardlynecessary to add that Rich's language is intimately, evocatively complicit in theserespects with the language of Dickinson's poem itself. What it means to be inside oroutside another identity; what it means to "take in" or possess; the verymeaning of a boundary--are put into question by "My Life had stood--a LoadedGun--." In this and other poems, Dickinson's often violent transactions with what is"outside" her reflect a situation for women poets of the dominant Anglo-Americantradition in which, according to Joanne Feit Diehl, "the 'Other' is particularlydangerous ... because he recognizes no boundaries, extending his presence into and throughherself, where the self's physical processes, such as breath and pain, may assume a maleidentity." The male Other who occasions her speech may also commandeer her verybodily identity, leaving nno refuge of interiority that is her own. Adrienne Rich’sreading of "My Life had stood—" internalizes Dickinson's struggle with theproblem of boundary and violence, rendering Dickinson both as the Other male ravisher andas an aspect of Rich's own interior.

Lost Events: Toward a Poetics of Editing Emily Dickinson's Late Writings (An Illustrated Essay) Dickinson Electronic Archives

Nevertheless, "My life had stood--a Loaded Gun--" leaves no doubt that awoman in a patriarchal society achieves that triumph through a blood sacrifice. The poempresents the alternatives unsparingly: be the hunter or the doe. She can refuse to be avictim by casting her lot with the hunter, but thereby she claims herself as victim. Bythe rules of the hunter's game, there seems no escape for the woman in the woods. EmilyDickinson's sense of conflict within herself and about herself could lead her to such adesperate and ghastly fantasy as the following lines from poem 1737:

Emily Dickinson Literary Criticism