Emily Dickinson: Transcendentalis, or Anti?

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Emily Dickinson: Transcendentalis, or Anti?

Post  shawanne on Fri May 15, 2009 1:01 am

I believe that Emily Dickinson expresses both qualities of Transcendentalism and Anti-Transcendentalism, although it seems as if she leans more towards the former. Most of her poetry presents an unique, insightful perspective; even though she was secluded from the outside world, she still found a way to reflect her ideas upon the world around her without actually being there. For example, “I Never Saw a Moor” is on expressing her views on religion; her certainty when expressing her views on heaven in the second stanza kind of implies that she believes in this higher being and therefore is in connection with it [intuition], much like what Transcendentalist ideas say. “I Taste a Liquor Never Brewed” seems to be talking about unlimited potential in the way that she is imagining new things that have never been there before, suggesting spontaneity and embracing the new. “Some Keep the Sabbath Going to Church” again expresses her views on religion, with the last line reflecting the idea of self-trust [trust in herself that she has been going the right way all along]. Although Dickinson does not explicitly state what her /exact/ views on religion are, a lot of her poetry is has a religious-oriented feel to it, suggesting that even though she might not hold absolute belief in God she does believe in some version of heaven or something akin to it.

On another hand, some prominently anti-Transcendentalist views are too expressed in several of her poems. Take “This is My Letter to the World” for example; to me it gives off a feeling of loneliness, and as discussed in class today it shows just how withdrawn she was in her lifetime. “I Took My Power in My Hand” reminded me, strangely enough, of Moby-Dick—maybe because at first she talked about how she believed so much in herself and could see herself defeating Goliath [which maybe symbolizes physical limitations?] but then going into the second stanza the narrator has lost hope and is defeated. Her reluctance to go out into the world may have contributed to the fact that she had Transcendentalist and Anti-Transcendentalist themes in her poetry. In class today we have come to the conclusion that an Anti-Transcendentalist is not necessarily one that rejects all Transcendentalist ideas, but rather one who believes in them to a certain point, but not wholly. Dickinson may or may not be an example of this, seeing as there /seem/ to be more Transcendentalist ideas in her poetry than not. I’ve heard from several sources that the most genius of people are often recluses [and as Ms. Wyant talked about in class, a significant amount of them had schizophrenia or other mental illnesses running in their families, although I’m not quite sure about that]. Who knows? Maybe only though herself looking out the window alone could she have reached those insights that she had.
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Re: Emily Dickinson: Transcendentalis, or Anti?

Post  kathy on Sun May 17, 2009 3:59 pm

For example, “I Never Saw a Moor” is on expressing her views on religion; her certainty when expressing her views on heaven in the second stanza kind of implies that she believes in this higher being and therefore is in connection with it [intuition]...

DUDE. you made a lot of good points about the little details in her poems that lead to transcendentalist/anti-transcendtentalist thinking. It not only helped me understand more about the poems themselves but also about the answer to the quesiton of whether she is or isnt a transcendentalist.
i liked the part where you stated that anti-transcendentalist doesnt reject all trans. beliefs, they just believe it to a certain point, to a certain extent until they feel they have a limit. She could be a bit of both because i think she's working through her thinking/ beliefs through her poems. It could be kinda like a freewrite? She may have both trans. and anti-trans thinking because she doesnt know it herself yet either, thats why through her writing, she is striving to clearify her essence and search for her inner being.
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