What do you think of Dickinson so far ?
Read Poem 258 - A certain Slant of light...
  • What do you make of Dickinson's style and the topic of her poem?
  • How does she express her narrative perspective in the poem ?
Write your initial response to the poetry, thinking about what you are looking forward to studying and what you are less sure of or nervous about from your reading of this poem.
Emma Gray
12/14/2011 06:30:39 pm

From reading poem 258, Dickinson explore the dark values and themes of the villiage. From what I have learned from Dickinson's background I can identify where she recieves her thoughts and topics clearly within her poems. The use of hyphens and capitalisations emphasises the pauses and giving specific words subjects of the line. 'There's a certain Slant of Light' shows that she lives in the dark and embraces the connatations of the dark while writing it at ease comfort.

Just from reading the first poem I was left breathless! When I was reading the poem I could identify her thought process as well as the themes of all the poems. Her emotions, become my emotions. From just reading the poem you can visulise what she sees and the time period she is experiencing. I am looking forward to the various interpretations and meanings of the poem we can discover as a class. Also how and why she embraces the dark insights of the villiage. Though I am nervous about whether or not my interpretations will be correct and that I can involve the meaning into my essay correctly. However, my main worry and concern is writing the essay...

At the end of the poem, I felt empty...

1/2/2012 11:42:06 pm

The poem has a very bleak tone to it. I think that, rather than the light being literal, it refers more to a state of mind. Emily Dickinson refers to the ‘Cathedral Tunes’ being oppressive. Religion is generally supposed to be something uplifting, yet it seems as if Dickinson does not see it that way, and this immediately sets the mood for the poem. The capitalisation of ‘Heavenly Hurt’ draws our attention and emphasises this. The overall poem appears to describe a rather depressed state of mind. Specific words are capitalised, such as ‘Despair’ and ‘Death’, making them sound even more gloomy and imposing. The capitalisation also serves to almost personify some of these words, ‘Landscape’, for instance. Ordinarily the reader might think nothing of the word, yet the use of an upper case gives the word importance and makes it seem alive. This is then confirmed when we read that it ‘listens’. ‘Death’, for me, is definitely personified, and presents a clear image.

This is quite a visual poem. Though it doesn’t actually describe something physically – at least, I don’t think so – the images created in my mind are quite clear. Not only by specific words, as already mentioned, but also by the overall poem. As I read it, a setting began to develop, and the feel of the time period also came through. It took me a while to get into this poem, but having read it a few times, I like it. The style of writing, with the unconventional grammar and punctuation and the tangible atmosphere, appeals to me. I’m curious to see if Dickinson’s other poems are like this. It’s full of emotion and atmosphere and meaning. I’m also interested to see what the rest of the class make of it and how it affects them. There’s bound to be a lot of layers and meanings that will be uncovered, which will be very interesting to explore.

1/3/2012 10:40:02 pm

I think Emily Dickinson writes with very deep interpretations. When I read the poem, I felt there was more to the poem then just reading it and analysing it. It may have very deep meanings, though I do not know if I have identified it.

The poem itself seems like that it was written with passion, but it has a very dark, depressing side to it. I think Emily did not mind the depressing tone, but it is noticable. I get this interpretation by reading words like 'hurt', 'scar', 'oppresses' and 'despair'. All these words give us a feeling of someone hurt, though from outside they are prefectly fine.

This poem also gives us an insight of Emily's mind, she perceives things differently. She is not actually talking about the slant of light, but something deeper. She talks about '...Landscape listens...Shadows-hold their breath...' as they are real people. The personification and the capitalisation also back up my point.

The emotions are flowing in this poem, and they have very huge impact. When I was reading this poem, I could almost feel what maybe Emily had in the past, though there are different emotions which can be identified. The lines feel like lots of things are left unsaid, plus the dashes.

I am very eager to start Emily Dickinson's poetry. This is poem is very raw with emotions, and I like that. Her style is very different and it is exciting.

1/4/2012 05:27:55 am

Emily Dickinson’s there’s a certain slant of light portrays depression through feeling, seeing and hearing. She is taking certain unimportant objects and giving them a deeper meaning, I feel the topic of this poem may be very spiritual and could be trying to discuss how you cannot be taught to understand something and you must realise it naturally, the last section show the realisation of spiritual understanding and approach of death. However there are links to religion (Heavenly Hurt, Cathedral Tunes) portraying the light from heaven which could contrast with the darkness that could mean death and depression. This poem really allows us to gain some sort of insight in to Emily Dickinson’s mind, we know she was an extremely unique poet for the period of time she wrote in, reading poem 258 we see many different perspectives which is both a little confusing but enticing as we can interpret many topics throughout and experience Dickinson’s thoughts and emotions.

I am looking forward to studying Emily Dickinson’s poems as I am interested to see everyone’s different interpretations of them, it is also very different from anything I have ever studied in the past so i am interested in what i can learn and take from them.

Sian Llewellyn
1/4/2012 05:36:29 pm

Reading peom 258 and understanding Emily Dickenson's background, I see how pessimistic she is about her life where she lives and this is portrayed through her poems. The metaphor of light could be relating to times in her life. Like about when there is light the shadows hold their breath may relate to how people are limited in what they can say and do about their lives, and the light being the law which controls her era. She uses metaphors to express her feelings as she cannot do it freely. Her style is interesting and allows us to have an insight into her mind and her life.

I am looking forward to studying Emily Dickinsons poetry as her life seems very interesting but I am concerned that as her poems are different to anything I have studied before, I will find the language quite difficult.

1/4/2012 05:42:09 pm

I didn't paticularly like this poem, I didn't like the rhyme in the first stanza because I did not really understand what it was meant to be. However, you can infer that Emily Dickinson was a recluse from this poem as she talks about how the light is oppressive, rather than uplifting.
Also, the poem is quite bleak, using phrases such as: " Heavenly Hurt, it gives us –
We can find no scar, ". The oxymoron 'heavenly hurt' suggests the continual religious connotations that occur throughout the poem. it infers how the light could be this heavenly power and that it is harmful, rather than good to the person. Also this whole religious connotations suggests the transcedentalism idea's that Emily Dickinson was influenced by.

1/4/2012 05:58:29 pm

When i first read the poem i thought it showed how emily was a recluse.The poem has a negative vibe to it, you can tell this by the words used in the poem such as 'oppresses' and 'death' also as the oppressive is used to decribe the light shows that emily looks at it in a negative way the simile 'cathedral tunes' is used also to decribe the light. this has religious connotations and prehaps shows that emily looks at religion as a oppression also.
the oxymoron 'heavenly hurt' shows that emily looks at the light in two ways as a positive- she likes the light to go through her window negative- it reminds her of what shes missing being a recluse.

my first initial thought was that it was a very depressive poem and i didnt really like it.

1/4/2012 06:09:12 pm

Emily Dickinson’s 'Slant of light' creates an extremely depressing mood for the reader.
The use of language in the poem portrays the isolation and despair from the narrative. The reference of 'Cathedral Tunes' and 'Heavenly Hurt' reflect the religious era of Dickinson's time and how she had been brought up. The idea of 'landscape listens' again helps me identify loneliness of the narrative. The emotions are easily created through the poem, making the reader feel and realise the sadder aspects within life.

I felt the emotions of the poem whilst I read, and look forward to learning more about Emily Dickinson's life, her poems and reasons behind those poems. I want to be able to interpret her poems from other aspects than just my own. I also want to be able to identify the reasons for the use of hyphens and other punctuation in the poems.

1/4/2012 06:21:43 pm

My first initial repsonse to this poem is very austere with sheer hint of depression and despair she does this byher use of dark words such as 'despair, death and hurt.' This can also be linked to her daily lifestyle and her current location. I know from my own knowledge and research that she spends all her time in her bedroom and her window overlooks a graveyard which demonstrate that location and everyday scenery may have a heavy influence on her writing. It also shows that she is recluse character.

Furthermore, Dickinson also has religious references like 'Cathedral Tunes and Heavenly Hurt ' which shows that she is spiritual. This poem enables us to gain visual insight of Emily Dickinson's internal emotion and thoughts.

I am intrigued on looking in to detail on the rest of her poems and hearing other people's own interpretations and ideas. Furthermore, I want to study on her style of writing and language to express her emotions and thoughts.

1/4/2012 06:23:12 pm

'There's a certain slant of light' Even from the first stanza the bleak and pessimistic tone is evident. After studying her in class I can see that her poems do portray her reclusive persona. Her poems were written for herself, and you can tell as she is expressing her depression and the feeling of being opressed, that you would not necessarily share with people.

Personally I find her poetry quite dark and depressing, and unfortunately it did not evoke much emotion. Hopefully after studying her more in class i will be able to appreciate her style of writing more.

1/4/2012 06:26:15 pm

due to the knowledge of her background and how she expresses her opinion through the poem i have found that this poem is especially negative and complicated. i found the poem hard to understand because there wasnt a clear structure or more that there wasnt a clear story or theme. This made me dislike the poem.

Owen Luff
1/4/2012 06:32:03 pm

In Emily Dickinson's poem 'A Certain Slant of Light', one can see the soulful emotion of the poem from the language used. The poem has an atmosphere of depression and desolation that reflects Miss Dickinson's lifestyle: her Christian upbringing (especially refelcted in the imagery of the words 'cathedral' and 'heavenly', the New England landscape and her loneliness. I can appreciate the skill in this poem in demonstrating two sides to her subject, such as the oxymoron 'heavenly hurt', and while I quite like the poem as a whole, it is not entirely to my taste.

Sophie Hadjikyriacos
1/4/2012 06:33:55 pm

I think that Dikenson is a very lonely and depressed character. We tell this by the way she descibes the light whichs shows that she notices the small things as she has the time. She also describes it like it is a last hope or desire which again reflects her moody tone.
By reading this, I felt this evoked emotions from me such as sympathy because I know from her background she is a recluse and surrounded by death.

Shannon O'
1/4/2012 06:37:16 pm

Dikenson's "Slant of the light" is a very emotional poem, she seem's very morbid and depressed, this is represented in the poem, and the light seems like all she has left, she seem's alone, almost trapped by her lonliness, this makes the reader pity her.
I personally didnt like the peom as i found it hard to understand it was complex and not easy to read, which makes it dificult to relate to or appreciate.

1/15/2012 07:49:39 pm

the first two stansas emily compares the the "sea", a wide open space, to a "house", a confined space. the mermaids in the basement.this could decribe how emily feels herself, as she is confined to her room. and feels she has to reduce the size of the open space to fit to her.
At the begining of the poem emily starts it of with somthing ordinay like taking her dog to the sea. once the poem goes on i realised that the sea has a diffrent meaning to it. as i read stanza 3, as the tide went past my .. bodice, the sea resembeled a man or a lover as the word bodice has sexual connotations. the literal meaning of the poem could sense that the sea literally builds over her and gradually rises above her. however metaphorically the sea acts as the force that overwhelms her physically and and emotionally.


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