Profile of a Poetic Genius: An Analytical Look Behind the Style of Emily Dickinson

An Excerpt from a Research Essay by Brandon Bradshaw

. . .Emily Dickinson also had a powerful curiosity and highly developed intelligence. This gave her a passion for life that was euphoric. She was able to appreciate intellectual and worldly creations at a higher level than most people. In a letter to his wife, Higginson quoted Emily's words describing her passion. "If I read a book, and if it makes my whole body so cold no fire could ever warm me, I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry" (Donoghue 5). In the sane letter he quoted her as saying she "found ecstasy in living" (Donaghue 5). Dickinson's mind and imagination allowed her to get at the true meaning of poetry like no other. Those who dabble in poetry or do not write it at all, dismiss it as a pastime. Those who devote their lives to it, insist it is a science. Emily Dickinson got underneath poetry. . . and found at its center art. She worked her poetry like an artist. She in turn viewed the world and its nature as art that she must mold into perfection, both in her mind and in her poems. It seems that this extremely sensitive and highly perceptive side of Emily's mind is revealed mostly in her letters and poems that concern nature. She loved nature, was very curious about it and held it at an equal status as herself, which commanded her appreciation of it. In another letter to Higginson, she told him that "Nature is a Haunted House - but Art a House that tries to be haunted." This quote is in no way derogatory towards art. "She was ostensibly saying that art imitates nature. But the implication of the remark goes further. For her, the world of nature is a dwelling place, hauntingly mysterious, peopled with God's creatures who live amid the phenomena God ordains and regulates. She feels that it is 'Heaven' to be alive and dwell in a house near so many fascinating creatures, models and vistas" (Johnson 183). She views nature with reverence and genuine admiration. In poem #1043 I feel the passion and appreciation she has for nature is evident.

Nature rarer uses yellow
Than another Hue.
Saves she all of that for Sunsets
Prodigal of Blue

Spending Scarlet, like a Woman
Yellow she affords
Only scantly and selectly
Like a Lover's Words.

Notice how in the poem she gives nature its own personality. Her genuine affection for nature can be sensed tremendously in this poem. It's amazing what one can create when his or her curiosity about something is stimulated with such passion for it. Emily's powerful mind has taken her poetry to a plateau where so few poets have been able to go to before or since. Her heightened sensitivity and intelligence have given her new and original perspectives in many areas of life.


Donoghue, Denis. Emily Dickinson. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1969.

Johnson, Thomas H. Emily Dickinson: An Interpretive Biography. New York: Antheneum, 1972.

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