January 14th, 2011
So, it’s really interesting that Dickenson included alternate words in her poems, unable or unwilling to decide. She offers alternate readings and understandings about her poems by doing so. With “My Life Had Stood a Loaded Gun,” she cannot choose between the “art to kill” or the “power to kill,” questioning her ability to have agency and never answering the question. She also ends so many lines with the dash, even ending this poem itself with a dash, as if everything is hanging, waiting for resolution that never comes. The ambiguity itself adds to the poem and perhaps what Dickenson was thinking when she wrote it–as much as I hate psychoanalytical readings, I’m guessing Dickenson didn’t like to make decisions. Her poems are a window into her own thought processes. Perhaps this could even help explain why she had such strong social anxiety.
On another note, I was telling my mom about ED and how she was a recluse, but continued to connect with some people (Mom liked the factoid about putting baked goods out her window for the children in the neighborhood). My mom (55 years old) theorized that Dickenson’s seclusion was due to hormones and that the era’s lack of explanation & therapy for the anxieties that overwhelm aging women was too much for the poet to handle, so she just stopped dealing with the world. I’m not sure if this is true, but I don’t think she was as crazy as some say.