A Brief Biography… • Emily Dickinson was born on December 10, 1830 to an upper-middle class family in Amherst, Massachusetts. • She attended Amherst Academy with her sister Lavinia for 7 years, later becoming a student at Mount Holyoke Female Seminary, before returning home. • By the time Emily was around 30 years old, she was living in almost total seclusion from the outside world. Many say her seclusion was due to her depression from deaths of close friends and several bouts of unrequited love. • In the summer of 1858, she began reviewing and revising her previously written poetry, piecing it together into 40 volumes, which when combined, held over 1800 poems. She never showed these to anyone. • Emily died young, at the age of 55, from Bright’s disease on May 15th, 1886. • Keeping her promise to her sister, Lavinia burned most of Emily’s letters, but became obsessed with having her poetry published. The first volume was printed four years after Emily’s death.
Literary criticism of Emily Dickinson… • Richard Chase (1972): "'Experience' in Emily Dickinson's best poetry is narrow and profound. Typically it takes the form of a sudden illumination, an appalling pause in the motion of things, a seizure of an unspeakable power, an ecstatic influx. Her favorite images for the typical experience are a bolt of lightning, a brilliant light, the sun, the eruption of a volcano, the unannounced arrival of a lover in his coach, the surprising knock of his hand upon the door, the confrontation of some threatening or overwhelming natural or psychic phenomenon." • David Porter (1972): "That theme is not the abstraction death or immortality or love or fame, but rather the act of the mind in quest of all of these.” • AgnieszkaSalska (1985)"In fact, almost any fascicle can be used as evidence for the argument that Emily Dickinson is much better viewed as a poet of 'nows,' shifting stances, alternating moods, arriving at only inconclusive conclusions"
A Light Exists in Spring… A Light exists in spring A Not present on the year B At any other period. C When March is scarcely here B A color stands abroad D On solitary hills E That silence cannot overtake, F But human nature feels. E It waits upon the lawn; G It shows the furthest tree H Upon the furthest slope we know; I It almost speaks to me. H Then, as horizons step, J Or noons report away, K Without the formula of sound, L It passes, and we stay: K A quality of loss M Affecting our content, N As trade had suddenly encroached O Upon a sacrament. P
Literary Devices • Rhyme Scheme: ABCB, DEFE…. • Meter: Irregular pattern of iambs (3,3,4,3) • Sound Devices: -There is a strong alliterative “s” sound that pervades the poem, such as “Upon the furthest slope we know; It almost speaks to me.” • Inversion: “Upon the furthest slope we know…” • Theme: The sunlight of spring brings contentment and light to the world, but as it fades, a feeling of loss is left behind.
Video Clip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3SmMwbKtCY&feature=related This is a video made by another person, setting Dickinson’s poem “A Light Exists in Spring” to music.
Resources • Poem: http://www.bartleby.com/113/2085.html • Pictures:http://community.livejournal.com/_tao_te_ching/2005/06/12/http://www.kheper.net/topics/breatharian/index.html • Biography:http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/155 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emily_Dickinson • Criticism: http://www.uncp.edu/home/canada/work/allam/18661913/lit/dickinso.htm