Abstract

The speaker in Dickinson’s poem “Had I not This, or This, I said” (Fr828) may be interpreted as a poet who confronts a rebellious poem that speaks back to her by declaring, “Thou hast not Me.” This revolution in roles, whereby the author of the poem becomes the reader of a poem that has proclaimed its independence from her, reflects Dickinson’s awareness of the importance of revolution as an essential requirement for the writer’s growth. Writing at a time when Americans were particularly aware of the national myth of revolutionary origins and contemplating the application of that narrative to the revolutionary potential of the Civil War, Dickinson enacted in personal and artistic terms what it meant to bring about productive revolutions. For both poet and nation, revolution had to yield progressive historical change and not result in alterations that were merely circular and repetitive. This is a point Dickinson makes in “Revolution is the Pod” (Fr1004), where her speaker challenges readers to activate the national will and produce evidence that revolution still blooms in America. For the poet, revolution connects with fame when she sees that her work has entered the writing and thinking of others, providing evidence that her art has achieved independence by entering and altering the forward flow of language. This is the position Dickinson expresses with particular clarity in “To earn it by disdaining it” (Fr1445).

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Additional Information

ISSN
1096-858X
Print ISSN
1059-6879
Pages
pp. 1-21
Launched on MUSE
2015-04-17
Open Access
No
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