Thursday, March 5, 2009

Her Letter to the World


Please read the following poem by Emily Dickinson and respond to the questions below:


This is my letter to the world,

That never wrote to me,

The simple news that Nature told,

With tender majesty.

Her message is committed

To hands I cannot see;

For love of her, sweet countrymen,

Judge tenderly of me!


What inferences could you make from this poem about Emily Dickinson as a poet and a person? Examine also her picture above and comment on her expression, clothing, and/or overall appearance. How does she strike you?

24 comments:

alexf said...

I think that she’s trying to say that she has discovered lots throughout her lifetime, yet nothing was easy. The world never gave her a “letter” that told her plainly and simply how to succeed. Instead, she had to try and fail for herself. I also think that she’s trying to say that “Nature” knows how to break the news or tell the truth kindly and gently, but Emily Dickinson has never experienced that simplicity. Dickinson knows that the truth (and the right way to tell it) is out there, but she does not know where: “To hands I cannot see…” Finally, at the end, I think she’s saying that if you love and respect nature, break the news gently. Be sensitive!

As for her overall appearance, she seems very shy and quiet. This is because Dickinson is wearing all black and sophisticated clothes. Especially with her very pale skin, she looks reserved. As for her expression, she looks as if she is about to ask a very complex and deep question. Her eyes seem to say, “this question is BIG! Don’t answer too fast!” Her hands also seem to be fidgeting with something, as if she were nervous.

kennaw said...

As a poet and a person, Emily Dickinson seems passionate about life. I think this poem is talking about her appreciation of nature and the beauty that it brings, or "her" beauty referring to mother nature. It seems that because of its beauty it gives something back to her without it being asked for. So, therefore she's passionate about life. The pictures trikes me as a woman who is thinking and is interested. The expression seems calm, but intelligent in thought. her look is simple yet the pattern on it shows the complexity of her thoughts.

mollyd said...

After reading this poem Emily Dickinson seems to be a simple minded person to me. Her poem is so plain yet interesting. I think she was a person who just lived her life and did not try too hard to impress others. She went with the flow of things and tried to enjoy what life had to offer. She expresses this in the poem by talking about nature and countrymen. Those are two rather simple ideas that she seemed to take joy in, showing her appreciation for the small things in life.
Emily Dickinson is in all dark clothing and dark hair with pale skin. This makes her face stand out quite a bit and her expression is curious. She also has a ribbon tied around her neck and I find that quite odd. Why is it there? From the picture she seems like a quiet person who just lives her life.

Oliviak said...

After reading the poem and examining the picture I would have to say that she felt that because she was a woman, she was judged in that light. She was expected to act and look a certain way. But her poems and writing weren't taken seriously because she was a woman. She also feels that the world has trapped her and she is only judged.

sabrinad said...

I think that her poem shows that she lives simply. She takes life as it comes at her- things may not be easy but she continues on. At points she seems to be asking for sympathy because no one has told her how to live, but in the end she seems to tell that she is truly strong. Her picture supports the idea that she lives simply. Her clothes are not fancy and although her pose is tense she seems to be happy. Her eyes seem to be asking questions and appear to be full of wonder and astonishment if that makes sense?

hannahl said...

I feel that this poem reflects Dickinson's personality because she strikes me as one who is looking to fit into a literary society that was very patriarchal. She obviously felt that mother nature gave her the gift of writing, but also cursed her with being a woman in a time when women were not equal to men as they are today. She wanted to use that gift and tell the world how she felt, but she knew that the world would never reply, because they were not ready for a woman to be so famous as a poet. In this poem she asks the world to "judge tenderly" of her because she wishes for her poetry to be a portal to acceptance.

EmilyJ said...

From reading this poem, you can infer about her personality that she was very "shut-off" from the world. She was searching for herself and her identity, and her writing reflects her confused mindset. She was insecure, and afraid of what people would say about her: "Judge tenderly of me!". However, she also relied on living life simply, letting things fall where they will. As a poet, she recites emotions of her own depression and confusion, and also creates an abstract image with simple words, open to a reader's interpretation. Looking at her picture, she strikes me as a lonely, dark, simple woman with not a lot of joy in life. She comes off as self-conscious, hidden within herself. You can also see this by the bland expression on her face.

RayS said...
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jordans said...

What I took away from the poem was that she feels she has given a lot to the world and received a whole lot in re turn. I think she is saying how much life has to offer but she hasn’t experienced it personally and is bitter about it. She is trying to get a reaction from the world to satisfy her and her efforts are misunderstood. As a person I believe she is a cynical girl and she looks sort of a like a tom boy or at least a girl who isn’t committed deeply to her looks. As a poet I think she utilizes her raw emotions for inspiration and writes about people. She is short sweet and to the point I think.

morganw said...

Emily Dickenson's poem's are simple, yet complicated, and written in a very quick, rhyming manner. They are easy to read, but also leave you thinking. Emily seems to me as if she would have been considered a more plain and reserved woman, dressing very modestly, but inside her head her thoughts were bold and yearning to be heard. Her blank expression in the picture seems typical of the time period - people didn't smile in photographs then, so its hard to make a judgement based solely on her expression.

marissas said...

Through Emily Dickinson's poem, I can infer that she is trying to be a part of a society that doesn't accept her. She loves the world and all it has to offer, but she feels as though the world does not feel the same about her. All she wants is for everyone else to see the world through her eyes, and "judge tenderly."

From the picture, I think she appears calm, collected, and untroubled. However, I don't think her expression accurately reflects her true personality. On the inside, I know she is a very passionate person who has strong opinions and beliefs. She's just waiting for her voice to be heard.

meganu said...

I think Emily is trying to give back to the world what it gave to her. Though the world did not give her a message in written words, it taught her a lot and took care of her. It made sure she learned what she needed to know to succeed. It made sure she always landed on her own two feet, no matter what happened.

To me, Emily looks very young and innocent. Yet she has this expression like she knows the cruel intentions of the world. By this poem, however, she seems to be an optimist of its ways. She also doesn't seem to put too much into her appearance. her hair is pulled back, out of her face. Her clothes are nothing too elegant or too bold. I think this is because she values more of her thoughts and ideas that she puts into her writings than what she looks like on the outside.

KateP said...

I think that Emily is trying to give back what she learned from life, but the world never really gave her back any advice. You can tell that she really has a love for nature, and praises it in this poem. I think that Emily Dickinson is trying to say that nature is the only thing that talked to her inside the world. The image of Emily Dickinson looks very plain to me. Her clothes and face seem to be very boring, but then when you look into her eyes, there is more and you can see the complexity she puts in her poems.

vballqueen said...
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KarlyH said...

From the words of her poem, I see Emily Dickinson as someone that has seen hard times in her life, and has had to be strong enough on her own to get herself through these hard times. The world never told her the right way to live, so now she is opening their eyes to the simplicity she sees in life. When she says “Judge tenderly of me!” I see it as her plea for the world to recognize her talent and embrace her without judging her critically. Her clothing also reflects this simplicity. I noticed the ribbon tied around her neck and wonder if it is simply a decoration or if it means more to her. Her expression is questioning and content.

vballqueen said...
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ParkerH said...

She seems to fit into the age clothing-wise, but she doesn't want to be judged and apparently she likes nature? I don't quite know what to make of this poem, but she seems like an honest person and a slightly cryptic poet. In the picture, she was dressed for the time period (I think), and she followed the "we don't smile in pictures" trend. I think this means that she wants things to be a bit different, but she doesn't want to change absolutely everything. Just the stuff she doesn't like, or thinks is wrong.

catem said...

I think that the main point of this poem was to say that Emily Dickison didn't want to be judged for how she was born and the fact that she was a women, but rather that what she accomplished.

melissaz said...

She seems to communicate the fact that she went through many hard ships through out her life, yet the world never helped her through these difficulties. She looks hardened by these experiances, but she has probably gained a knowledge through this that many do not understand.

But she also brings about the point that nature is a beauty that is important to her. It communicates in a more unique, sweet tone.

KiraW said...

I think that this work really reflects how little society cared about her. But at the same time I think that she may have just have been having a negative attitude. I think that she should have learned to look at the bright side that people did really care about her, she just wasn't seeing it.

When I was in 7th grade one of the girls in my computer class was like that. She thought that no one liked her when really she was a very nice and likeable girl. She ended up switching to homeschooling because of this fact although no one really did hate her.

Emily Dickinson needs to learn that life may like her to.

amyw said...

I think that this poem shows that Emily Dickinson wasn't a complicated person. Although it seems complicated at first glance, it's actually a simple poem. This reflects her personality most likely---complicated on the surface, simple beneath the surface. Her clothes are somewhat austere and they are simple and dark, revealing that she may have been a serious person. Her expression shows this as well.

rachels said...

Sorry for the late post!

I think this poem reveals that she really connects with nature and feels alienated from the world because of it. She knows that the beauty of nature is always present with or without the knowledge or aknowledgement of humans. The beauty of nature that she admires so much could also represent her love of writing. She may feel alienated from her society as a female writer and begs for acceptance in the last lines: "For love of her, sweet countrymen, Judge tenderly of me!"

The picture is really striking; it seems like she is staring right at you. The ribbon (necklace?) around her neck also caught my attention. Her hair is pulled back a little severely pulled back and her dress seems like it's plain and dark. She strikes me as a kind of repressed soul trying to break through.

MattN said...

As a poet and a person, Emily Dickenson appears as a completely different person then here writing describes. Emily's picture makes her seem like a stiff poet who would write about nothing but death, depression, and conformity, but her poem is suprisingly refreshing! I feel like her poem writes about her life, and how it has gone. While the first read through seems happy and at one with nature and herself, reading through a second time, her poem sounds more sad when read outloud. It sounds like she has been let down by her fellow country men and nature that she loves. And life has still been all that she has hoped for. She settles! And that is what she focuses on which is sad.

roser said...

So after I read it through, I remember when Hannah mentioned reading that one poem backwards and it still made sense, if not more...I tried this, and again it proved true to me. I find myself thinking that Nature was almost cruel to her. Her picture also looks as if she has been pained, the black attire, the stone-cold straight face.