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Emily Dickinson and the Modern Consciousness: A Poet of our by Kenneth Stocks

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By Kenneth Stocks

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A Deed knocks first at Thought And then - it knocks at Will That is the manufacturing spot And Will at Home and well It then goes out an Act Or is entombed so still That only to the ear of God Its Doom is audible (no. 1216) It is in the translation of Thought' into 'Will' into 'Act' that the existentialist authentic is revealed. But here is a dilemma. The making of poetry, true poetry, is surely authentic action of the highest order. But suppose the maker pursues his work in strict privacy, with little hope of or attempt at publication and with the likelihood that it will perish with him when he dies, what then of a lifetime's authenticity of action?

160) The last stanza provides the temporal and timeless setting for the drama 46 Emily Dickinson and the Modern Consciousness portrayed and envisaged in the poem. The death-time association is also wonderfully at work in this poem: Safe in their Alabaster Chambers Untouched by Morning And untouched by Noon Lie the meek members of the Resurrection Rafter of Satin - and Roof of Stone! Grand go the Years - in the Crescent - above them Worlds scoop their Arcs And Firmaments - row Diadems - drop - and Doges - surrender Soundless as dots - on a Disc of Snow (no.

She also says, in the same poem: Reduce no Human Spirit To Disgrace of Price - the human spirit arrayed against the drive to reduce it to 'mortal numeral', to a mere instrument or thing. ) All this leads on to the next poem: A Plated Life - diversified With Gold and Silver Pain To prove the presence of the Ore In Particles - 'tis when A Value struggle- it existA Power- will proclaim Although Annihilation pile Whole Chaoses on Him (no. 806) Here, in these eight lines, is the essence of the basic existentialist situation and response - the 'Plated Life' (the ordinary or inauthentic); the pains of authenticity ('Gold and Silver Pain') with its struggle to assert 'Value' in 56 Emily Dickinson and the Modern Consciousness confrontation with iron necessity; 'Annihilation', the piling on of 'Chaoses'.

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