Emily Dickinson, an American poet during the mid-19th century, revolutionized poetic form and function. She experimented with variant punctuation and with unconventional capitalization, while discussing everyday life. Emily Dickinson expresses her belief that poetry presents endless possibilities for the expression of emotions, thoughts, and feelings through her use of both traditional and organic forms, extended metaphor, and imagery.
Initially, Emily Dickinson combines traditional and organic forms of poetry to express her feelings. Dickinson’s use of quatrains exemplifies traditional framework. By dividing her twelve-line poem into three four-line stanzas, she honors the conventional poetic form. However, Dickinson also uses the organic structure in her poetry. She demonstrates this process through her use of dashes and irregular capitalization.
Dickinson uses two dashes in several lines of poetry (lines 4, 9, 10) instead of the more customary commas to force the reader to pause and consider the underlying message. Additionally, Dickinson frequently breaks the standard rules of grammar by capitalizing common nouns. For example, she capitalizes “Possibility” (line 1), “House” and “Prose” (line 2), and “Paradise” (line 12). By capitalizing these important words, Dickinson underscores the significance of the ideas they represent. Thus, Dickinson’s union of traditional and organic forms assists in the conveyance of her ideas.
Along with the use of variant forms, Dickinson also employs a conceit to extol the virtues of poetry. Throughout the poem, Dickinson uses the comparison of an imaginative house to the boundless possibility of poetry. For instance, according to Dickinson, the “house” of poetry is “More numerous of Windows–/Superior–for Doors–” (lines 3-4), contains “an Everlasting Roof” (line 7), and enables the poet “To gather Paradise” (line 12). These lines offer the idea that poetry presents limitless potential to the writer. Therefore, the extended metaphor conveys Dickinson’s personal belief that poetry allows for more creativity.
As an enhancement to the extended metaphor, Dickinson develops images to explore the possibilities afforded by poetry. She creates the image “Gambrels of the Sky” (line 8) to conjure the idea of the limitless possibilities of poetry. With the phrase “The spreading wide my narrow Hands” (line 11), Dickinson portrays the picture of a poet welcoming a plethora of opportunities for elucidation. Thus, the imagery of the poem aids in the conveyance of Dickinson’s message that poetry provides greater creativity for the poet.
Emily Dickinson used two poetic forms, an extended metaphor, and imagery to convey her notion that poetry permits the writer to articulate his or her personal beliefs and insights, without the limitations of prose. Her venture into revolutionizing poetry caused people to view poetry in a new way.