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Dickinson, Telegraphy, and the Aurora Borealis
Abstract

Between 1835 and 1860, New England was subject to unusually frequent and intense displays of the northern lights, which both excited religious fervor and interfered with the new technology of telegraphy. This essay examines Dickinson's treatment of the aurora borealis in her poetry, with particular attention paid to the astronomical and meteorological conditions of her youth, the poet's scientific reading, telegraphy, and the development of the Dickinsonian metonymy of "Aurora" as a response to the temporal and spatial limitations of human contact.