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  • 1. zycnzj.com/ www.zycnzj.com 淮 阴 工 学 院 毕 业 论 文 作 者: 胡丹 学 号: 10319314 系 (院): 外语系 专 业: 英语 Title: On the Theme of Love of Emily Dickinson’s Poems 题 目: 艾米莉·狄金森诗歌之爱情主题探析 吴良红 讲师 指导者: (姓 名) (专业技术职务) 徐耀云 讲师 评阅者: (姓 名) (专业技术职务) 2007 年 6 月 zycnzj.com/http://www.zycnzj.com/
  • 2. zycnzj.com/ www.zycnzj.com 毕业论文外文摘要 Title On the Theme of Love of Emily Dickinson’s Poems Abstract American poet Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) is the pioneer of the western modern poetry. She created about 1800 poems all her life. She was little known and indifferent to worldly desires before her death. She lived the life of a recluse. Though she never married and seemed quiet on the outside, she had rich, deep and passionate emotions. The style of her poetry is new and original. Her strange ideas and ingenious words are far better than that of some other poets. Her poems incarnated the special emotional thought, imaginative faculty and creative power. In her love poems she expresses the relationship between love and death, love and eternity, and love and religion. Her poems contain rich meanings, so her poetry is a scene of dazzling beauty. Many of Emily Dickinson’s love poems express her views of love and her love experiences, and the theme of love is permeated with three aspects: expecting the arrival of love and the probable marriage, chance meeting and inevitable separation and raising of love to a higher level. This paper will mainly make an analysis of her love poems and help readers understand the poet herself and her love poems better. Keywords Dickinson, poems, love zycnzj.com/http://www.zycnzj.com/
  • 3. zycnzj.com/ www.zycnzj.com 毕业论文中文摘要 美国女诗人艾米利·狄金森(1830-1886)是西方现代主义诗歌的先 驱。她一生创作了约 1800 首诗。她生前恬淡,默默无闻,过着隐士般的生活。她 终身未嫁,外表宁静,内心却隐藏着一个丰富,深邃,炽热的感情世界。她的诗 歌风格独特新颖。新奇的念头,令人惊异的措辞和巧妙的文字搭配总是让人望尘 莫及,体现了她的情感思维,想象力,独创力。她在描写爱情时,渗透了爱情与 死亡的关系,与永恒的关系,以及与宗教的关系。她的爱情诗歌有着多重底蕴, 因此显得美不胜收。 在狄金森很多爱情诗歌中表达了诗人自己的爱情观及其感情经历,并主要从三 个方面体现出来:期盼爱情的到来和可能的婚姻,偶尔的幽会和必然的分离,以 及爱情的升华。本文即从这三个方面分析其爱情诗,从而进一步了解诗人内心的 感情世界及其爱情诗歌的美妙之处。 (空 2 行) 关键词 狄金森,诗歌,爱情 说明: 1、“关键词” 为小 4 号黑体。 2、关键词的个数为 3~8 个。关键词的排序,通常应按研究的对象、性质(问题) 和采取的手段排序,而不应任意排列。 “关键词”后面不加冒号,关键词与关键词之间用全角逗号(, 3、 )隔开,最后一 个关键词后不加任何标点符号。 zycnzj.com/http://www.zycnzj.com/
  • 4. zycnzj.com/ www.zycnzj.com 淮阴工学院毕业论文 第 Ⅰ 页 共 Ⅰ 页 Contents 1 Introduction…………………………………………………………………………1 2 Three Important Aspects in Emily Dickinson’s Love Poems………………………3 2.1 Expecting The Arrival of Love and Probable Marriage……………………………3 2.2 Chance Meeting and Inevitable Separation…………………………………………6 2.3 Raising of Love to A Higher Level…………………………………………………8 Conclusion………………………………………………………………………………10 Acknowledgements……………………………………………………………………11 References………………………………………………………………………………12 zycnzj.com/http://www.zycnzj.com/
  • 5. zycnzj.com/ www.zycnzj.com 淮阴工学院毕业论文 第 1 页 共 12 页 1 Introduction Emily Dickinson (1830-1886), the American celebrated poet, was one of the premier writers that lived during the Victorian Age. Though she was not celebrated until after her death, Emily Dickinson’s poems, as well as Walt Whitman’s, were considered as a part of “American Renaissance”. They were regarded as pioneers of imagism. Being the daughter of a prominent politician, Emily had the benefit of a good education and attended the Amherst Academy. Then she spent a year at Mount Holyoke female Seminary. In 1848 she began her life of seclusion, traveled infrequently and never married. Throughout the year of 1885, Emily was confined to bed in her family’s house where she had lived her entire life. Altogether, she wrote 1,775 poems, of which only seven had appeared during her lifetime. On May 15,1886 Emily, who was called “vestal of Amherst” , took her last breath at the age of 56. At that moment the world lost one of its most talented and insightful poets. Dickinson’s poems are of subtle and roundabout brevity, yet her linguistic economy conveys complex ideas. Her images, taken from daily life, are vivid, distinct, and focused, conveying intensity of abstractness through their concreteness. The sharp images and direct and simple language show her vision with force. She utilizes fully and skillful trope such as symbolism, metaphor, synecdoche, metonymy, etc. Dickinson’s major themes, love and death, are traditional religious subjects, which are extremely common. But expression in her verse is not common at all. Her expression is unique and original. Regarding love, Dickinson believed that the prismatic quality of love enabled energy that passed through the experience of love to reveal a spectrum of possibilities. Dickinson never defined a specific lover, but concentrated on passion as a whole. Concerning nature, Dickinson generally equated nature with heaven, hills, and flies. She also saw nature as a friend with whom she loved to commune. Dickinson most frequently compressed her poems into brief stanza forms, in a few different combinations of iambic tetrameter and trimester lines. She also employed partial rhyme schemes, which became common in the next century. Dickinson’s complex syntax draws a rich variety of connotations from many common words. Her imagery and zycnzj.com/http://www.zycnzj.com/
  • 6. zycnzj.com/ www.zycnzj.com 淮阴工学院毕业论文 第 2 页 共 12 页 metaphors derive both from an acute observation of nature and from a powerful imagination. When Americans established the Poet’s Corner at St John Abbey in New York in May 1984, they engraved two poet’s names there, one was Whitman, and the other was Dickinson. Both of them were regarded as apart of “American Renaissance” and were pioneers of imagism. John Barr, in the American Poetry in the New Century, says “American poetry found its true beginnings in Whitman and Dickinson”. (Liu Baoan, 2004,451) Richard Chase comments: “Dickinson and Whitman got the greatest achievements in poetry field of America”. (Liu Baoan, 2004,451) But Dickinson differs from Whitman in a variety of ways. Dickinson explores the inner life of the individual, Whitman seems to keep his eye on society at large. Whereas she is regional in her outlook, he is national. In China, until 1980s, scholars began to do research on this great poet and her woks. During these years, the achievements of researching are gratifying. Scholars have translated more than 500 Dickinson’s poems. Several Chinese versions of Dickinson’s select poems were published. On the themes of her poems, Zhang Wei, in his “On the Lightness and Graveness of Emily Dickinson’s Love Poems”, says: “Emily Dickinson was the only woman poet in the 19th century American poetry world who dared to create love poems frankly. Her love poems contain rich meanings, describing various kinds of love experiences, which implied her profound philosophical thinking on female’s individual value and social value with light and grave ethical conflicts permeated from beginning to end.”(Zhang Wei, 2006,1) In “Dickinson’s Death Metaphor and Christ”, Dong Aiguo does research on the close relationship between the death metaphor in her poems and Christ. Yang Dianhong, in her “Love, Death and Eternity”, points out “Dickinson’s poems contain rich meanings, we should not classify her poems in some pattern, because her love poems are connected with religion and culture, and her death poems are related with eternity.” (Liu Baoan, 2004,451) 2 Three Important Aspects in Emily Dickinson’s Love Poems Many of Emily Dickinson’s love poems express her views of love and her love zycnzj.com/http://www.zycnzj.com/
  • 7. zycnzj.com/ www.zycnzj.com 淮阴工学院毕业论文 第 3 页 共 12 页 experiences. She cultivated intense intellectual companionships with several men in succession, whom she called tutors. These include Benjamin F.Newton, a law student at her father’s office, Charles Wads-Worth, and Thomas W.Higginson, a poetry critic for The Atlantic Monthly. Her life was seemingly eventless, for she stayed quietly at home and for the last twenty-five years she lived in almost total seclusion. Though she never married and seemed quiet on the outside, she had rich, deep and passionate emotions. In her 1800 poems there are more than 300 poems on love theme, and 147 poems contain the word “love”. Dickinson’s love poems contain rich meanings, describing various kinds of love experiences, such as the sense of loss about love, agony and sadness of love, or being in pursuit of love and looking forward to love, which imply her profound philosophical thinking and the unhappy experiences in her lifetime. The theme of Dickinson’s love poems is permeated with three aspects: expecting the arrival of love and the probable marriage, chance meeting and inevitable separation and raising of love to a higher level. This paper will mainly make an analysis of her love poems and help readers understand the poet herself and her love poems better. 2.1 Expecting The Arrival of Love and Probable Marriage Dickinson’s love poems express her moods. Sometimes the emotion is wild with joy or white-hot like fire and sometimes it’s pathetic, melancholy and in extreme grief. The reader can find her poetry is distressed and indistinct at one moment, and then it becomes sad and sentimental, solemn and stirring. The undulating and varied emotion vividly expresses that Dickinson’s mental world is contradictory and diverse. Her concealed and complex “love experience” is the most important source of her works. And it’s also one of the reasons why her poems are emotional, ingenious and weird. The main reason why Dickinson was never married is that she had the emotional entanglements with several men. And the failure of love caused her seclusion. As a result, she was expecting the arrival of love and probable marriage all her life. In Dickinson’s love poems, the words from the bottom of her heart reveal her true feelings of laying for love and marriage. She was original. She sounded idiosyncratic, sometimes. Like Gerard Manley Hopkins, she never imitated others. The way she wrote about love is a good case in point. “Mine-by the Right of the White Election” expresses a zycnzj.com/http://www.zycnzj.com/
  • 8. zycnzj.com/ www.zycnzj.com 淮阴工学院毕业论文 第 4 页 共 12 页 passionate and eternal love in an elegiac tone. “Wild Nights-Wild Nights” is in more than one respect a peculiar work in love: Wild Nights! Wild Nights! Were I with thee, Wild Nights should be Our luxury! Futile the winds To a heart in port, -- Done with the compass, Done with the chart! Rowing in Eden! Ah! the sea! Might I but moor Tonight in Thee! The erotic image is self-evident, which reveals the narrator’s eagerness for love. Love is expressed in an unabashed manner. The boat and sea are the symbols of male and female lovers who coalesce into wild consummated love. In this poem the narrator speaks fairly clearly what she is talking about. Her poem is not omitted, but it does show the narrow-mindedness involving sexuality at this time period. The narrator continues with “Wild nights should be our luxury”, which implies that the man she is speaking about tells her he is too busy to see her or something...then she says “Futile the winds to a heart in port” which means basically that no one can stop a person or a “heart” in love...perhaps not even this man’s wife? Then the following line “done with the compass, done with the chart” suggests that she is tired of rules and guidelines, or perhaps she is tired of how society views things. After all she did become a recluse, and disagreed greatly with the society, especially along the lines of religion. 1 Dickinson lived in a contradictory world. She was in pursuit of personal freedom, aspiration and love. But she had to endure the shackles of old conventions and religion. Dickinson thought deeply about humanity and love. In many poems the poet observed the love between the both sexes is natural. Love gives no cause for much criticism. In the poem “Why Do I Love You, Sir?”, this concept is proved by simple and unadorned words. 1 Notes: All of Dickinson’s poems in this paper are from the website: http://www.americanpoems.com/poets/emilydickinson/ zycnzj.com/http://www.zycnzj.com/
  • 9. zycnzj.com/ www.zycnzj.com 淮阴工学院毕业论文 第 5 页 共 12 页 Dickinson expresses that she longs for the happy marriage in many of her love poems. The critics pay high tribute to the wonderful concept of “I’m Wife, I’ve Finished That”. The first stanza is “I’m wife, I’ve finished that / That other state, I’m Czar, I’m woman now / it’s safer so.” This poem describes the feeling of becoming a woman. The heroine becomes someone’s wife, and she fells satisfied and perfect. In this poem, Dickinson confirms that marriage is human’s natural ethics and examines the female’s status in marriage and the female’s meaning in life. These remarks are quite meaningful. In her first poem “Awake Ye Muse Nine”, from line 31 to the end, she also expresses the emotion that she wants a happy marriage. There’s Sarah, and Eliza, and Emeline so fair, And Harriet, and Susan, and she with curling hair! Thine eyes are sadly blinded, but yet thou mayest see Six true, and comely maidens sitting upon the tree; Approach that tree with caution, then up it boldly climb, And seize the one thou lovest, nor care for space, or time! Then bear her to the greenwood, and build for her a bower, And give her what she asketh, jewel, or bird, or flower - And bring the fife, and trumpet, and beat upon the drum And bid the world Good morrow, and go to glory home! This part is written in a tone with such passion. The style of this part is like a folk song because it sounds humorous, happy and light-hearted. “Emeline” here is also Emily herself. Her wish for a happy marriage is suggested in this poem. This stanza--- “Approach that tree with caution, then up it boldly climb, /And seize the one thou lovest, nor care for space, or time!”--- the poet expresses that the ideal and romantic marriage is not fettered by space or time. In this relation between the sexes, all of the females’ wishes should be gratified. Women should get their ideal marriage, no matter what their wishes are refined or vulgar. As she says in the next stanza, “And give her what she asketh, jewel, or bird, or flower -”. It is clear that the poet knows this kind of love is important in reality. Therefore, she longs for happy marriage more. In her opinion, love and marriage are her life-long pursuit. 2.2 Chance Meeting and Inevitable Separation zycnzj.com/http://www.zycnzj.com/
  • 10. zycnzj.com/ www.zycnzj.com 淮阴工学院毕业论文 第 6 页 共 12 页 Though Dickinson lived in seclusion of all her life, her heart was sincere and profound to love. The main source of this theme is about the love experiences between Emily and Charles. On her way to Philadelphia, she met and fell in love with Charles Wads-Worth, a middle-aged married pastor. Many critics believe that this pastor is the “model” of Emily’s love poems. During 1856-1862, Dickinson created more than 1000 poems, especially in 1862, she wrote 366 poems. Most of these poems were written to Charles. Because Charles moved to a distant place and worked there at that year. The separation brought terribly upset to her. The cruel world made Emily describe the sense of loss about love, agony and sadness of love. In “I Cannot Live With You”, the description of love is infatuated, frank and audacious. The poem expresses the agony of separation. Emily seems to describe the love between herself and Wads-worth. The essence of the whole poem is “Nor could I rise - with You - / Because Your Face / Would put out Jesus’ - / That New Grace”. It means that the man she loves would be saved but she wouldn't, since he is a priest. Dickinson had the feeling all her life that she wouldn't be a saved person despite the fact that she was religious. This poem also suggests how she is separated from her lover because of one of them being a priest or a “sexton”, as she calls him in this poem. Also, she is afraid to loose that person if she dies. Ironically, she is just bringing the pain on sooner, without even allowing herself the joy of experiencing it first hand. Some of Dickinson’s poems describe the feeling of missing, for example, If you were coming in the Fall, I’d brush the Summer by With half a smile, and half a spurn, As Housewives do, a Fly. If I could see you in a year, I’d wind the months in balls - And put them each in separate Drawers, For fear the numbers fuse - If only Centuries, delayed, zycnzj.com/http://www.zycnzj.com/
  • 11. zycnzj.com/ www.zycnzj.com 淮阴工学院毕业论文 第 7 页 共 12 页 I’d count them on my Hand, Subtracting, till my fingers dropped Into Van Dieman’s Land. If certain, when this life was out - That yours and mine, should be I’d toss it yonder, like a Rind, And take Eternity - But, now, uncertain of the length Of this, that is between, It goads me, like the Goblin Bee - That will not state - its sting. This poem begins so cheerfully, with swiping away the summer, and then grows more despondent as the time lengthens before she gets to see the beloved person she waits for. The poem is obviously about time, love, and separation. She is unsure of how long she will be separated from the man, but is quite certain about her love for him (even though he was a married man..). She finds ways to pass the time until she can see him once again. Both of the poems are written to Charles Wads-Worth. One poem expresses Emily’s agony of separation from Charles. The other is about missing of Charles. From these two poems, the reader can understand Dickinson’s inner world was full of extreme contradictions. She longed for love, but she can’t gain the true love. She had to bear the long-time separation from her lover. 2.3 Raising Love to A Higher Level Dickinson remained faithful and unyielding attitude to love in her lifetime. She had raised love to a higher level. Though she longed for and was pursuit with love, she would rather never get married than submit to the secular love. The poem “The Soul Selects Her Own Society” incarnates her attitude. The Soul selects her own Society - Then - shuts the Door - zycnzj.com/http://www.zycnzj.com/
  • 12. zycnzj.com/ www.zycnzj.com 淮阴工学院毕业论文 第 8 页 共 12 页 To her divine Majority - Present no more - Unmoved - she notes the Chariots -- pausing - At her low Gate - Unmoved - an Emperor be kneeling Upon her Mat - I've known her - from an ample nation - Choose One - Then - close the Valves of her attention - Like Stone - Taking a superficial view of this poem, the poet praises the faith and unyielding love. Dickinson says that “The Soul selects her own Society- /Then - shuts the Door-”, “Then – close the Valves of her attention – Like Stone –”. Actually, the poet wants to express her firm faith, which she never submits to the bigwigs. This line--“The Soul selects her own Society,”--- refers to a person who decides to close the door of her heart eternally to others because the person she truly love is gone, no longer by her side, perhaps dead. She has raised love to a higher level, beyond life and death. Therefore she wants to embrace that prior lover and let no other replace it. Here “Chariots” and “Emperor” refer to people who are rich and powerful. Maybe they pay assiduous court to the heroine in the poem. But the heroine remains unmoved and she is waiting for her true love. Even though the one she loves is a poor young man, she would rather never get married than submit to the secular. She decides to eternally “Then-close the Valves of her attention - Like Stone-” and to continue with her life. The faithful and unyielding attitude to love runs through the whole poem, and it incarnates that she has raised love to a higher level. The most beautiful theme of Dickinson’s love poetry is that love is eternal. Dickinson expresses this theme in the following poem. “Love-- is anterior to Life --/ Posterior -- to Death --/ Initial of Creation, and/ The Exponent of Earth Love”. This poem refers to love in connected with life. It is ever-present; it does not have a starting point, nor will it end. zycnzj.com/http://www.zycnzj.com/
  • 13. zycnzj.com/ www.zycnzj.com 淮阴工学院毕业论文 第 9 页 共 12 页 According to Dickinson in this poem, love is eternal. Though Emily Dickinson could not gain the eternal love in her life, she had raised love to a higher level in her heart. She believed the existence of true love, and she was willing to bear all the agonies for love. She praised that love can bring new life to people, and she was seeking the perfect love and happy marriage all the time. The poet was firmly convinced that people who go through misery and atone for their crimes can be together with their lover eventually. zycnzj.com/http://www.zycnzj.com/
  • 14. zycnzj.com/ www.zycnzj.com 淮阴工学院毕业论文 第 10 页 共 12 页 Conclusion Love is an eternal theme in literature. Emily Dickinson has shown the reader a special world of love in her love poems. Many of Emily Dickinson’s love poems express her views of love and her love experiences. She is expecting the arrival of love and probable marriage all her life. She goes through several distressed love experiences, and she can’t gain the true love. She has to bear the long-time separation from her lover. The cruel world made Emily describe the sense of losing love, agony and sadness of love. However, Dickinson remains faithful and unyielding attitude to love all her life. She would rather never get married than submit to the secular love. She has raised love to a higher level. In her opinion, love is eternal. zycnzj.com/http://www.zycnzj.com/
  • 15. zycnzj.com/ www.zycnzj.com 淮阴工学院毕业论文 第 11 页 共 12 页 Acknowledgements I would like to thank everyone who has offered me help and advice for this paper. My deepest gratitude goes first and foremost to my supervisor, Lecturer Wu Lianghong, who has offered me scholarly advice and commented in detail on drafts of this paper. I am grateful for her patience and hard work. I am also thankful to my classmates and friends. Without their help and advice, this paper would not have been completed. Finally, my sincere thanks would go to my family who give me their support and encouragement from beginning to end. zycnzj.com/http://www.zycnzj.com/
  • 16. zycnzj.com/ www.zycnzj.com 淮阴工学院毕业论文 第 12 页 共 12 页 References [1] Judith, Farr. The Passion of Emily Dickenson [M]. Cambridge, Mass, and London: Harvard University Press, 1992. [2] Longsworth, P. The World of Emily Dickenson [M]. New York: W.W.Norton& Co., 1990. [3] Weisbuch, R. (ed.) Emily Dickenson’s Poetry [M]. Chicago and London: The University of Georgia Press, 1993. [4] 艾米莉•狄金森,狄金森名诗精选 [M]. 江枫译.四川:太白文艺出版社,1997 [5] 埃默里•埃利奥特,哥伦比亚美国文学史 [M]. 北京:中央编译出版社,2005. [6] 常耀信. 美国文学史 [M].天津:南开大学出版社,1998 [7] 黄蔚红.On Expression in Emily Dickinson's Poetry [D]. 郑州:郑州大学,2002. [8] 刘保安. 近五年来国内狄金森研究综述 [J]. 外国文学研究,2004,(5):51-59. [9] 徐敬珍. 艾米莉•狄金森的伊甸园 [J]. 北京第二外国语学院学报,2002,(3):72-79. [10] 张韦. 轻逸与沉重--论艾米莉•狄金森的爱情诗 [J]. 重庆工学院学报,2006a, (4):89-93. zycnzj.com/http://www.zycnzj.com/