A Hatched Poet at Amherst


When I first read about Emily Dickinson in our American Literature class, I noticed how brief her poems were compared to those of Walt Whitman’s which were first discussed. I was given the opportunity to introduce her in our class through reporting. I encounter her again and her name reminded me of a recluse yet a quite admirable woman poet.

According to T. W. Higginson she was a “partially cracked poetess at Amherst.” It was quite understandable since, she was a poet ahead of her time. She brought poetry that was different from the traditional forms during her time. Poets that time faced struggles: external as brought about by the Civil War and internal since there was the issue of originality of purpose, to be freed from the traditional modes of life and thought, and the struggle to create a new world. I think that even when Emily Dickinson became a recluse she became a keener observer of life. She concretized the abstract, and by that, she had given a new poem, of which contains same things of what one poet could’ve told in other words.

This was stated in a book entitled The Poem of the Mind:“All her poems show a lifetime’s effort to regulate an individual existence, with all the rich meanings of that word: to put in good order, to adjust so as to work accurately….The expression of her self-control, her self-understanding, must take these tersely measured forms, holding under terse command a dangerous charge” (Martz,1969). The stringent lines of her poems reminds me of William Blake yet hers had a quite distinct a style. Whitman was one who makes his readers look from the universal to the inner self, while Dickinson’s works concerns that of the personal to the deeper realization applicable to a bigger view of the world.

The dashes entail the dramatic pauses and pacing in Dickinson’s poems. It is even said that the dashes or hyphen indicate a pause wherein the experience is remembered while the capitals in her poems suggest the emphasis on the words. Her poem entitled “Faith” is a fine invention is a poem that even with the apparent brevity, the emotion is so wholly conveyed upon reading it. It was only in another book that I understood what that the poem meant self-evaluation.

Dickinson’s style varied from hymn-like ballad forms to short ones. I like how the dashes control the motion of her poems. I like how she personifies abstract ideas, and I admire how she makes herself reveal one circumstance yet meaning a lot more. If she had said that she felt a certain emotion after reading a good poem, the same goes for me after reading her poems and I had said to myself “That was Poetry.”

I admire the words she used, and how she gave the language its beauty and meaning incomparable to any other than by themselves. Her unique style is indeed revolutionary. Hers was an early attempt to mark a new period in the genre of Poetry. I think her experimentation is evident not only in her poetry but also in her life. Even when she was in seclusion, she was a free writer, one who didn’t care of how shocking her works were for other people.

It is only now that I came to know more of Emily Dickinson. She is indeed among the greatest poets who eventually outlived history. I think she was not a “partially cracked poetess at Amherst,” I think the people during that time were the one’s who were not yet ready for her. In her recluse she was hatching more and more works until her death. Writing poems for her seemed like knitting, tending the garden and the household. She gave a miniature picture of her life and emotions in words through poems that editing her poems is considered a drastic step that destroys Dickinson.

I think she has proved herself worthy to be among the greatest poets enabling individuals to explore further what Cirilo Bautista stated as ‘a mysterious entity called a “poem”.’ I think she is a great woman poet!


2 thoughts on “A Hatched Poet at Amherst

  1. I’m a big Emily Dickinson fan, and I just thought the comparison between the ‘partially cracked’ quote and the title of your post (a hatched poet), was beautiful. I never quite thought of it that way – maybe Higginson was right, only he didn’t know the cracks were there for a reason, the little spiderlines that mark a coming new birth… 🙂


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