This article focuses on the significance of the Civil War to Dickinson as a poet. The war not only reflected Dickinson's inner turmoils, it threatened to trivialize them. What did her poems of stoic suffering and private torment matter in a nation at war with itself? How could she aspire to glory on the page when heroes were forming daily on the battlefield? In her struggle to justify her poetics and her bid for poetic fame, Dickinson took various approaches, ranging from ardent identification to aggressive emulation, and from protestations of modesty to outright confessions of envy. The challenge for Dickinson is most evident in the poems she wrote following Lincoln's assassination. How could the poet make her own name while elegizing the martyred president? In these poems, Dickinson found her answer in her role as an elegist whose "deathless syllable" would help make Lincoln's memory immortal.


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