Summary of The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson
Part I of the book The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson contains poems pertaining to the nature of life. Poem I talks about how those who feel defeated all the time cherish success much more, as the first two lines state, “[s]uccess is counted sweetest by those who ne’er succeed”. Poem VII states the maladies of missed opportunities, which is undoubtedly a part of life. Poem X emphasizes on a book that recounts details on history, with the following lines signifying the identity of the subject: “[a] precious, mouldering pleasure ‘t is to meet an antique book”. The pleasure in getting hold of the book that recalls history stems from the fact that such object tells so much stories from the past, which in turn has helped characterize the present. Poem XI notes how people in the real world tend to face challenges over expressing their dissent on ideas, as the following states: “[d]emur, -you’re straightaway dangerous and handled with a chain”. Poem XX recounts a reality of life called drinking alcohol, while poem XXVI expresses the transformative power of new ideas. Poem XXXVII notes how negative instances tend to offset positive ones, hence providing balance in life. The personification of the lives of bees, ants and a nut-eating creature other than a squirrel has become remarkable humanistic accounts found in poems XLIII, XLIV and LIV, respectively. Poem LXXI stands as a possible criticism of the way humans place monetary value on objects even to exorbitant extents, while poem LXXXIX denotes the importance of backing words with appropriate actions. Further characterizing other aspects of life is the characterization of the dew in terms of its invisible importance in poem XCIX and the inevitable reality of irreconcilable clashes prominent in poem CVI, stated directly through this line: “I tried to match it, seam by seam, [b]ut could not make them fit”. Further life realities include the idea of working undesirably to earn desires in poem CXXI, the concept of the brain in poem CXXVI and crossing across ordeals represented by sea planks (Stade 6-76).
Part II of the book The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson talks about several observations on nature. Poem IX, for instance, depicts the practice of logging and its implicit effects on the environment. Poem XX talks about a wishing star in the form of Arcturus. Poem XXIII notes the importance of a road scattered along the road. The importance given to the useless stone lying on the ground lies on the premise that it has no animated feature that would enable it to undergo human experiences and derive emotions from those. Poem XXIV talks about a vivid description of a snake, dubbed in the piece as “[a] narrow fellow in the grass. Poem XXXII talks more about the nature of gossip, which seems to have become a way of life for many people. Poem XL is a vivid and lighthearted piece representing the comparison between the sunset and a woman performing cleaning duties in her house. Such piece depicts how the different sunset colors set the mood properly, subject to the progression of the sunset throughout the day. Poem LII, albeit quite vague, stresses on the involvement of religion and God, in that it involves imageries pertaining to the Bible such as the sparrow, as noted in the line, “God keeps his oath to sparrows”. Poem LXXXII notes on the four kinds of noses humans would probably register. Lastly, Poem LXXXV talks about how one could escape any predetermination through “superiority to fate”. All of the foregoing poems pertain to the characteristics of nature, in both humans and the environment (Stade 85-134).
Dickinson has written many of her poems in such an assorted manner, to the extent that one poem would not find itself just one kind of classification. At first glance, an absence of any classification would show that the assorted poems would belong to numerous subcategories, although the work on the compilation has done very well in terms of identifying subheadings – life and nature, in this case. Categorization has given away clues for other poems, in that the rather vague makeup of some has become more understandable.
The first category, on life, reflects some of the most daunting realities humans can face on their lives. The choice of Dickinson on poems about life is rather eclectic, in that many do not just cite typical human experiences as in the cases of sweet success for the oft-defeated, missed opportunities and crossing ordeals, but also normal activities such as drinking alcohol. Themes of personification were also apparent to compose poems on life, such as the systems followed by bees and ants. Poems on life tend not to be rigid in terms of reference, but rather flexible in terms of substance.
The second category, on nature, reflects how Dickinson spent much of her time outdoors, observing how the environment around her grows. Again, Dickinson ensured in her poems on nature that the selections would be eclectic and not lenient towards just a particular theme. Personification, once again, has characterized the nature of the rock as a more fortunate case than that of humans. Pressing environmental and social issues – from logging to gossip, have found coverage in poems as among those needed for resolutions to maintaining nature.
Stade, William (Ed.). The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson. New York City, NY: Barnes & Noble Classics, 2003. Print.