The uncouth love in Emily Dickinson’s poetry

Let us make a premise.

  • We cannot have poetry for a personal account. We need to allow for the poetic person.
  • The word sense for uncouth is not customary, not ordinary and thus unfamiliar.


Emily Dickinson’s contemporaries did put love in a rather tight corset: if one loved, it had to be a person, human or God. However, let us compare the American Heritage today, for a transitive and defining use of the verb to love.


LOVE, verb, transitive: 1. To feel love for (a person); 2. To feel sexual love for (a person).


Here, the transitive and defining use ends. Further, we can have kindness, emotional attachment, or enthusiasm.



Naturally, we should not have the same word for the definiens and the definiendum. Saying, “to love is to love”, we either commit ourselves to tautology, or make a motto. 🙂



Today too, a prominent lexical resource emphasizes love as a feeling for people, whereas both history and behaviorism would have proved that expectation on love as a feeling fundamentally for a person is narcissistic vanity. 😉


When I published my translation of Surrender on a website, the reaction was disbelief. I had mistaken something, the opinions were.



The forum was not the only such environment.
“In my opinion, the poem is saying she’s angry with a friend who is getting back together with someone who won’t give her his whole heart.”



>>God<< must be the subject of >>would be content<< and we see the second and more significant meaning. God would be content if she only dedicated to him a fraction of what she gives the lover.”



There might be hardly anything more prosaic than dusting books. Penning verse about it belongs with genius (take pen and paper and try). Let us imagine the poetic person was reading, when the time for dusting came. The person surrendered and allowed the housekeeping activity.


What if we continue holding love for a feeling that can refer to a human, or God strictly? Let us begin with the notion of God. Nobody can presume intimacy with God.


Why, God would be content
With but a fraction of the love
Poured thee without a stint.


In all philosophy and religion, God is an entity of own will and affect, among other attributes shared with humans. Nobody can take satisfying God for granted. Fortunately, the first line has the clue: my dim companion.


There is a dim capacity for wings and a fear too dim, in Emily Dickinson’s poetry; there are dim, long-expectant eyes and dim countries; there is dim sounding and a dim border star; dimity in convictions, dimities of blue, and dimming in thought, as well as traits dimmer than a lace — but no dim persons or people. What can get dim with time? Printed text. A companion can be a lexicon, handbook, or compendium.


Contrary to the rather odd idea for conceit, the poetic person does not express certainty to please God. The person does not expect own name in a written resource to have a definition of God (content also can be a book interior). My suspect is Webster 1828, entry: God.


As regards pleasing people, a gift of dust could be only ridiculous, especially for love and courtship. There never have been such poor people.


Interpretations of Emily Dickinson’s poetry also happen to put a yoke of physicalness on emotion.


Zostawiłeś mi Granice Bólu –
Pojemne jak Morze –
(Bequest, Love II)


Should one have had as little experience with pain as milk tooth ache only, one still knows the people round do not have the same physical sensations. Things are the same for people to have lived before us.


If we combine the notions of content and vastness, we can compare the Greek βαρύμοχθος, barymochthos, toilsome. Today, we have the phrase to take the pains, expressing conscious effort. This needs not bring on physical, psychological, or literally any pain at all.


In The mystery of pain (Life, XIX), it is not physical pain the poetic person means, as well. The verse elaborates on language as a cognitive device, in which Emily Dickinson could be recognized as a precursor.


Pain has an element of blank;
It cannot recollect
When it began, or if there were
A day when it was not.


It has no future but itself,
Its infinite realms contain
Its past, enlightened to perceive
New periods of pain.


There is not ― as there never has been ― pain, physical or psychological, without awareness of its beginning and source: at least in people capable of writing. However, if we look to language paradigms, we notice that verbs like to ache, in Polish boleć, Latin doleo, or Greek ponao, do not have the Passive. We do not say *we are ached, or *jesteśmy boleni.


Regarding the new periods of pain, we can exclude the female indisposition, in the light of awareness as above. Languages have their periods however, and those have happened to bring change in verb patterns, as Late Latin when compared with Old Latin, for example.


How is language a cognitive device here? Looking at charts that show language paradigms, for example, we can let free thought. Here, it would be that we do not have to learn everything by experience. For own good wit to motivate our lives — as inevitably, even if we take advice, it is us to take it — we can consider phenomena and make resolves. Finally, making a life painful would not make it meaningful (“an element of blank”).


Feel welcome to compare the free, creative thought on language paradigms, in other pieces.



I think Emily Dickinson loved language, reading and writing. It does not do her justice, to be presented as an eccentric who offers dust, or says she has physical pain over some centuries that have passed.


Finally, I have defined love of language myself.


LANGUAGE, noun, is an audible or visible letter shape or speech sound structuring of phonological, syntactic, and semantic integrity that can communicate thought as well as affect. Inner language is an internalized language form to prioritize syntax and semantics.


LOVE, noun, is a long-term attachment to involve active interest in good quality.


LOVE OF LANGUAGE, noun phrase, may express in reading, writing, publishing written matter, care for spoken qualities, as well as supporting the behaviors.


Obviously, we are free to have more than one love. 🙂


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