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Express Course: Emily Dickinson

When you think of Emily Dickinson, you probably imagine a sad recluse who had nothing better to do than spend her waking hours imagining her own death. And while this may be partially true, reducing Dickinson’s work to this would be criminal. In fact, did you know that Dickinson had a number of very joyous and optimistic pieces?

Take her poem I Taste a Liquor Never Brewed. In this, she refers to herself as a ‘debauchee of the dew’ that is drunk on air, life, and warm weather. So much for a ‘totally depressing’ poet!

Even her more ‘stereotypically Dickinson’ works have an upbeat sound with her peculiar use of rhythm and punctuation. Her poems are often ‘sing-songy’, and this allows readers to explore the more serious and deep themes of her writing in a more enjoyable and almost relaxed way. In I Felt a Funeral in my Brain, one can hear the march of the mourners, and its surreal aspects make this rather hardcore poem (she is picturing what it would be like to be in a coffin whilst being buried) more approachable.

So whether you enjoy delving into the dark corners of your soul or prefer word music and childlike storytelling, you will most certainly find something for your taste in the immense work of the grand Emily Dickinson.