Abstract

This essay reads Dickinson’s six 1862 poems about autumn through the dual lenses of Keats’s ode “To Autumn” and the Civil War, particularly the representations of Civil War battlefields she would have encountered in newspapers and other periodicals. Kohler argues that these six poems resound with ironic, often satirical echoes of both Keats’s ode and war reportage, rearticulating “‘Autumn’” in ways that draw attention to its rhetorical constructedness and revealing a fundamental concern with the ways language conditions how we think about seasonality, death, and national landscapes. Moreover, whereas Keats removes disease and distress from his imagery in order to present a decidedly temperate English autumn, Dickinson’s poems reverse this impulse, aggressively reintroducing pathology to an autumnal discourse that has been de-pathologized. The essay concludes with an extended analysis of “The name - of it - is ‘Autumn’” (Fr465), a poem which strangely heightens its own rhetorical shifts amidst its account of a dying, bloody landscape; the poem’s bathos parodies not only Keats’s surreptitious shifts but also the abrupt shifts in autumnal rhetoric in New England periodicals during the War.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1096-858X
Print ISSN
1059-6879
Pages
pp. 30-54
Launched on MUSE
2013-04-18
Open Access
No
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