Emily Dickinson's Unutterable Word

It may be the dream of every author to discover the one word that says it all. For Dickinson, the dash—invariably ambiguous, often inscrutable—comes close to that all-inclusive unutterable word. Paul Crumbley's study of the manuscripts caused him to devise something of a translator's guide to the dash. While this is an intriguing approach, it seems rather that her bounteous mark of punctuation, her signature mark as a poet, matters because it exists, not because of how it does. It may simply be a twitch of sorts and to suggest that it had the same sort of intentionality as her words is to make meaning where even Dickinson herself can be found speechless.