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Trying to Think with Emily Dickinson

From: The Emily Dickinson Journal
Volume 14, Number 1, 2005
pp. 84-103 | 10.1353/edj.2005.0003


Emily Dickinson had a sharp mind, but what did she think of thinking? This essay uses letters and poems to examine the many important roles that thought played in her life and poetry. Part one portrays Dickinson as a Lockean-Kantian postmodern artist who used poetry to test and expand her mind's limits. Part two introduces a lyrical subgenre unique to Dickinson: the "try-to-think" poem. Part three, a close reading of "I tried to think a lonelier Thing," reveals key elements of a typically difficult Dickinsonian project: thinking extreme emotion.