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Emily Dickinson

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Philosophy Teacher's Assistant
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Dordt College

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  1. Introduction
  2. Emily's thoughts
  3. The fortunate aberration
  4. The genius
  5. The walking corpse
  6. Emily's particular reclusive genius
  7. The parallel between the two Emily's lies
  8. Bible and Emily: Emerson
  9. Conclusion

The poetess is the most fantastic of implausibilities. She is a bizarre stray onto the wrong pedestal. Emily Dickinson, in the lonely ranks of poetry, has this particular distinction. Only Sappho, Emily Bronte and Elizabeth Browning keep her company in the otherwise fraternal pantheon. One can, therefore, imagine her celebrity among the bards, and how, when she stepped through the aetherial door, Keats paused in his discussion of Grecian urns with Pindar, and toasted her with the words, ?here at last we have wine, women and song at once.?

[...] Given that she was a genius, the typical thing to do is speculate on how Emily came to be one. That ?genius is born, not made' may be taken as so much dandelion fluff: to my knowledge, neither great art nor great deeds have proceeded from the cradle. Every genius, studied long enough, will be shone to be a merely precocious infant (if that) catapulted by something outside themselves to their abilities. And at first, Emily was undoubtedly only precocious. [...]

[...] Hawthorne described it best, in the ?Celestial Railroad': is a German by birth, and is called Giant Transcendentalist; but as to his form, his features, his substance, and his nature generally, it is the chief peculiarity of this huge miscreant, that neither he for himself, nor anybody for him, has ever been able to describe them.? It can only be assumed, that Emily grasped some of Emerson's gnomic utterances as wise: and, taken individually, they sometimes are; but that she swallowed transcendentalism whole may be doubted, if only for the reason that there was no very well-defined whole to be swallowed. [...]

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