The sense of belonging shapes who we are as a person, it gives us our own unique identity, and it is in the human nature to need it. We feel a connection with people who belong to the same thing but it also distances us from those who don’t. Emily Dickinson portrays her perception of belonging in her poems through the use of literary devices and themes. These devices help her express her feelings and thoughts on the main concepts of nature, death and love. In ‘What Mystery Pervades a Well’ the personification of “the water lives so far” gives a sense of curiosity and awe. This is maybe further emphasised in the rhyming couple structure. This establishes a sense of wonderment and curiosity and highlights the limited knowledge and understanding we have of nature and how we can never truly belong it to.
The use of words that are mysterious such as ‘mystery, another world, abyss’ gives a tone of not knowing, curiosity and awe. The ambivalence of ‘awe’ plays through the mind, whether it is an awe of amazement at what she doesn’t know or an awe of dread at what she can’t know. The ‘but’ in the 5th stanza shows the tonal shift, followed up by the disturbing nature imagery of ‘haunted house and ghost’. This increases awareness of how little we know. The last stanza has a paradoxical meaning of if you know nature, you know her less. So you can never truly belong to it because you can never know everything about it. Through the poem ‘This is my letter to the world’ Dickinson trys to put across the idea that despite all barriers that prevent belonging, the persona still looks to be accepted.
This is demonstrated in the quotes “The simple news that nature told” and “For love of her sweet countrymen, Judge tenderly of me”. In the first quote nature is personified as someone who gave the persona a message. This positions nature as an intimate friend to the persona. This unique connection with nature has prevented belonging with society. The audience is directly addressed in the second quote. She demands the attention of society by using the insistent language ‘judge tenderly’ to tell those who love nature to accept her.
This is an attempt to reach out to the world so that she can belong. Regardless of the barrier of her unique connection with nature, the persona still strives to belong. Dickinson used various devices such as paradox, language, imagery and rhythm to convey her idea of belonging through the concepts of nature, love and death. Dickinson conveyed that through a connection that not many people have such as nature, you can lose or be deprived from belonging to society. But even though all these barriers stop you from belonging, instead of giving up, human nature yearns to belong to anything or anyone.
Courtney from Study Moose
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