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Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Freeing Words From Conventional Restraints

 “Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul – and sings the tunes without the words – and never stops at all.” – Emily Dickinson 

Dickinson, the subject of a couple of recent movies and dozens of books, was born in Massachusetts on this date in 1830.  And while she remains one of America’s best-known poets, she was not famous in her own short lifetime (she died at age 56).  It was only after her death that her sister discovered the treasure trove of some 1,800 poems she had written.

While Dickinson was a prolific writer, fewer than a dozen of her poems were published while she was alive.  Dickinson's poems are unique for her era.  Written in short lines, they often lack formal titles, contain unconventional capitalization and punctuation, and often use slant rhyme (a type of rhyme formed by words with similar but not identical sounds, also called “approximate” rhyme).  
The Poetry Foundation said “She experimented with expression in order to free it from conventional restraints.”

The first "collection" of her poetry was not published until 1890, but a complete volume, The Poems of Emily Dickinson, was not published until 1955.    Known for a reluctance to greet guests or, later in life, even leave her room. Most of Emily's friendships were carried out by correspondence where some themes of her poetic writing also can be seen.
Shortly before her death, she penned these famous prophetic lines:  “Because I could not stop for death, He kindly stopped for me; the carriage held but just ourselves, and immortality.”  

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