The Questioning Poet: A Close Reading Of Dickinsons 569

1831 words - 8 pages

When one reads Emily Dickinson, one is expecting a piece of writing which is full of dread and discontent in the world. This is why at first glance poem number 569, or "I reckon- When I count at all-" one instantly feels taken aback by the apparent positive imagery that is found within the writing. However upon close reading one makes a realization that the poem is just as dark as her other pieces, if not even more upsetting. Although the beginning of the poem implies the idea of poets being creators, the last stanza undermines this idea and instead portrays the image of a poet questioning if it is possible that they are unintentionally filling the minds of their readers with false hopes ...view middle of the document...

It is understood that a poet is the forefront creator of these beautiful things as when one thinks of such natural beauties such as the sun or summer, they think of it in the alluring verses of poetry. The following line of "The Others look a needless Show -"(7) is the perfect metaphor to describe exactly what the actual images being represented are worth with the existence of poets that can make them appear so beautiful. Just like a sideshow at a circus or a concert which may portray a small amount of the actors or musicians talents, these base images are only a fraction of what can be seen about them, and a poet can unlock their full potential and make them as beautiful as one commonly perceives them to be. Dickinson proceeds to raise poets to the standing of an omniscient being in the following stanza. From the opening line of stanza three the poet is no longer considered just a normal human being. Dickinson attributes to them the ability to create and alter reality when she writes "Their Summer - lasts a solid Year-"(9) a beautiful metaphor that states that a poet has the ability to capture something as fleeting as a season and prolong it with their writings, altering time and reality much like a god would be able to do. The notion that a poet can "afford a Sun"(10) is metonymies to a god as the only conceivable being that would be able to "afford" a sun would be a god, again strengthening her apparent argument that poets are creators and gods.

Despite the apparent godliness of poets that Dickinson portrays, she begins to show a sense of doubt in a poet's abilities and how they are being used when she says "And if the Further Heaven - Be Beautiful as they prepare For Those who worship them"(12-14). In these lines a sense of questioning begins to come into her words. The capitalization of the word "Further" is especially interesting as it brings to view the idea of something far away. By capitalizing "Further" Dickinson makes it extremely apparent that the Heaven that is being described in this particular section of the poem is completely different from the other Heaven that is being described earlier in the poem. Rather than a "Heaven of God" which seems to be a place of wonder that people would look forward to, the "Further Heaven" that is being described at the end of stanza three and into stanza four depicts that this Heaven being described is being brought into question. The Heaven being portrayed is one that is out of reach from mankind that the poet is assuming truly exists. Her choice of "Further Heaven" rather than outright saying false Heaven is also significant because to blatantly say false Heaven would completely undermine all the writings of past poets and utterly remove any validity from any poets claim. This would lead to a claim that in actuality there is no Heaven, as most writings about Heaven is done by those who one could consider poets and the only way that the masses have truly heard of Heaven is...

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