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A Modern Myth: Emily Dickinson and the Everyday Hero

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  1. Introduction
  2. A relatively haughty assertion for a relatively simple poetic form
  3. Using grammatical characteristics
  4. This act of picking apart a poem
  5. The cultural and historical context to the folk ballad
  6. Conclusion
  7. Works cited

One can wonder whether William Shakespeare's sonnets would be memorized in every classroom across the Western world if they were anything other sonnets. So inseparable are the two ideas that they barely have separate identities: Shakespeare's sonnets are accepted without question, and most analytical commentaries approach from the angle of content rather than form. His sonnets just are, and one rarely questions the ?why? of his sonnets. Sadly, Emily Dickinson has been equally discriminated, passed off as a ?genre? poet: as Shakespeare is the sonnet, Dickinson is the ballad. Yet such a generalization is destructively misleading. Dickinson is other forms as well; she is even poetic freedom. She is not defined so easily, and neither are her poems. And when she does use the ballad form, that very use must be explored as thoroughly as the meaning behind her words, for, to steal the cliché, there is a method to her madness.

[...] Consequentially, Emily Dickinson gives birth to the everyday hero through her ballads. The historic notion of the hero has changed: while the modern man or woman does not slay a dragon or lead an army of knights on horseback, he or she does live, does survive, a feat that can be seen as equally heroic. Dickinson's journey in ?Because I Could Not Stop for Death? is fantastical, magical, beyond physical comprehension, much like the journeys of those epic heroes who were stronger and braver than any man or woman who came before. [...]


[...] Inner Meaning of Poetic Form.? After New Formalism: Poets on Form, Narrative and Tradition. Ed. Annie Finch. Ashland, OR: Story Line 199-203. Wiman, Christian. Idea of Order.? After New Formalism: Poets on Form, Narrative and Tradition. Ed. Annie Finch. Ashland, OR: Story Line 204-216. Appendix A Because I could not stop for Death (712) by Emily Dickinson Because I could not stop for Death He kindly stopped for me The Carriage held but just Ourselves And Immortality. We slowly drove He knew no haste [...]


[...] She even uses a consonance rhyme in the third stanza with and although that is probably the toughest stretch since the sound is buried within the Either way, Dickinson establishes this inconsistency as consistency; if such rhymes were used only once within the poem, they could be considered an abnormality. But in ?Because I Could Not Stop for Death,? the only true rhyme is the aberration. As the poem continues, the speaker loses the reality of the poem, the framework of the ballad form, just as she loses her own reality. [...]

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