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It is typically the practice to examine poems individually to grasp their meaning, but examining Emily Dickinson's poems in the context of their fascicle sheets, and the fascicles, themselves, can be an illuminating and worthwhile endeavor. When Emily Dickinson's poem "Four Trees - upon a solitary Acre - " is interpreted in isolation from the other poems Dickinson placed on the same manuscript sheet, it emerges as a beautiful commentary on the natural world and its relationship with humanity. The poem separates its speaker from nature, concluding that nature is something mankind may never fully comprehend. However, when this poem's interpretation is expanded to incorporate the other poems in the hand-written, hand-bound manuscript book that editors have labeled Fascicle 37, the poem becomes a layered musing on nature's role in connecting humanity to God. The poems exhibit several speakers who wrestle with how the creation of art allows them to better interact with and understand Divinity. This project aims to show readers the value and process of a horizontal reading of Dickinson's fascicles by comparing several poems from Fascicle 37 with "Four Trees - upon a solitary Acre - ," specifically "Conscious am I in my Chamber –," "Autumn - overlooked my Knitting – ,” “Bloom upon the mountain stated – ,” “Publication – is the Auction,” and “Growth of Man – like Growth of Nature – .” By being able to view Dickinson's fascicles as complete works, we're able to utilize horizontal reading techniques to draw new conclusions further contributing to the work of Dickinson scholars. To supplement the poems with scholarly context, the project also uses Christine Gerhardt's A Place for Humility: Whitman, Dickinson, and the Natural World and two texts from James McIntosh: Nimble Believing: Dickinson and the Unknown and "Dickinson's Kinetic Religious Imagination."
Utah State University
Peak Summer Research Fellowship
English Language and Literature
Rasmussen, Evan; Brezenski, Mckay; and Castro, Xiomara, "No Nearer Neighbor Have They: How Emily Dickinson's Fascicle 37 Explores Nature as a Link Between Man and God" (2020). Fall Student Research Symposium 2020. 72.