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Poetry by Emily Dickinson

Here is a great topic suggestion when studying Emily Dickinson and Analyzing Dickinson's Poetry:

Analysis of Emily Dickinson’s “I Cannot Live with You” OR “I Heard a Fly Buzz.” Analyze one of the poems. To derive an interpretation of a poem, please use a modified formalist method of interpretation that uses elements of poetry.

Suggested Outline for Poetry by Emily Dickinson Research Paper:Poetry by Emily Dickinson

  1. Intro-Hook
    Smooth transition to situation and setting; give the title of the poem you’ve chosen.
    Smooth TR to Thesis: (complete sentence that states the theme or predominant effect of the poem, as you interpret it). This should be an explicit thesis (discussing your chosen topics in the order you plan to present them in your paper).
  2. Briefly summarize the major events or aspects of the poem. You should state the subject of the poem and then briefly paraphrase the feelings or thoughts of the speaker about the subject. Quotes are sometimes useful in the summary (be sure to give the line numbers in parentheses after the quote).
  3. Choose at least two of the elements of poetry listed below that are most relevant to the poem. In my opinion, the most useful to analyze are speaker, tone and language. Keep in mind that when analyzing language, you will not find examples of each type of figurative language, but you should find some examples in most poems.
  4. Conclusion: clarify how the various elements come together to convey the theme or effect of the poem. Include personal appeal.

*Elements of Poetry to consider when writing Poetry by Emily Dickinson Research Paper:

  • Speaker: The voice in the poem, not necessarily the poet. As you begin your analysis, be careful not to fall into the trap of assuming that the speaker in the poem is the person writing it. Try to think deeper…could this voice be symbolic? Is the poet assuming a persona, a role or a mask to deliver the poem?
  • Situation and Setting: what is happening in the poem (like plot in fiction) and time, Place.
  • Tone: attitude or feelings the poem expresses Language Imagery: language that appeals to the senses
  • Metaphor: comparison between things thought to be unlike
  • Simile: comparison using like or as
  • Personification: giving human qualities to the nonhuman
  • Symbol: something that stands for something else
  • Sound: rhythm when read aloud
  • Internal Structure: organization of the content: narrative, dramatic, discursive, descriptive External Form: stanzas and meter
  • Irony: to expect one thing but give the opposite (literary device often found in fiction) Precision and Ambiguity: Word choice in the best poems is very precise in order to create a certain effect, and sometimes is intentionally ambiguous (open to more than one interpretation).

Poetry: Imaginative, rhythmical use of language to convey emotions or thought; the best poetry often uses very precise, compressed language to intensify its effect

Two Broad Classes of Poetry:
Romanticism: poet as the seer, divine forces may speak through poet’s personal voice; images may spring from dream, reverie, trance, emphasis on feelings, heart; organic form—shape of poem comes from the unconscious; lyrical (song-like); especially popular for the last 200 years.
Classicism: poet as the maker, emphasizes intellectual, traditional, communal aspects of poetry; carefully crafted images to communicate deepest insights; form is preconceived, not organic; poet speaks with voice of priest or teacher to share experiences with the community; popular throughout history.

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