Emily Dickinson uses nature in almost all of her poetry. She uses many literary techniques in her poems to show her interpretations of nature and the world around her. In the poem “The snake” she uses imagery in the forms sight and touch. The poem describes the snake as transient or passing swiftly and deceptive or misleading. His appearance is sudden. As the snake moves it divides the grass in one place, and as he moves, in another. The speaker has been deluded by the snake’s appearance. It mistakes the snake for a whip or lash. This is a use of situational irony.
Emily also uses personification to give the snake human characteristics. She uses the words, “fellow”, “rides”, and “comb” which are normally seen as human related terms. Also she describes the ground as a “floor” which suggests a house, rather than outdoors which can bee seen as a symbol for the snake being more than just an animal. This is another way to show that the snake is almost human-like. She goes on to say that “The grass divided as with a comb”, which uses more imagery and a simile to again relate the snake to a human object.
Further on in the poem she describes the snake as it gets closer to the speaker and then farther away. As the snake goes by her it brushes her leg and she talks about how she feels for nature great overwhelming emotion. In the fifth stanza the words emphasize the speaker’s connection with nature and her people. The snake is included in “natures people” and she feels a connection with it. The speaker feels “a tighter breathing” and zero at the bone” every time the snake goes by her. The connotation of “tighter breathing” suggests constriction, a holding your breath which can be seen as negative. “Zero” also suggests cold, alone, or nothingness, which is also negative. When saying, “zero at the bone” she is saying how the feeling penetrates to “the bone” and suggests how deeply felt, and how intense the emotion is. By using these connotation at the end of her poem she could be referring to death or dying, maybe from fear of the snake. This poem uses many symbols, and specific word choice to show how danger may reveal itself in nature. After reading the poem the tone can be seen as frightening or depressing because Emily takes the beauty of nature and shows that there are sides to it that can be threatening and dangerous as well.
In another poem by Emily Dickinson entitled “In the Garden” she also uses lots of imagery about nature. She uses sight and sound imagery to give the reader an idea of what the speaker is seeing and hearing. Also, again she uses personification to give the bird human characteristics. Talking about the bird as it “came” down the walk is an example of this. Emily uses symbols to give the bird human qualities. She says that the bird “bit an angle-worm in halves/And ate the fellow, raw.” Ironically the word “raw” shows an implication of human values and practices. Why would you expect the bird to cook its food? Emily then goes on to talk about the bird drinking dew “From a convenient grass” which can be symbolic of a glass a human would drink from. The bird is then polite to a beetle by hopping sidewise to the wall. This statement gives the bird a personality, which is personification.
Continuing into the next stanza the speaker talk about the bird as “He glanced with rapid eyes”. In this line, the imagery of the bird’s looking around suggests the bird’s caution and fear, as well as possible threat in nature. Later in the stanza Emily uses a simile, “They looked like frightened beads, I thought;” to describe the bird in civilized terms with the words “beads” and “velvet”. Again with the referring to the bird looking around scared, she shows the potential danger in nature. She uses the words “danger” and “cautious” as symbolic words to show her feeling of nature, though the idea remains a minor note in this stanza and in this poem.
There is irony in this poem because the speaker is showing caution towards the bird and nature, while the bird is really just as scared and cautions as the speaker. When the speaker cautiously offers the crumb to the bird, the bird is scared enough to fly away. The beautiful flight of the bird is described over six lines. This poem reveals both the danger and the beauty of nature. Emily refers to the bird in “civilized” terms as a way of controlling the threat and dangers that are always present and suddenly appear in nature.
The last poem that I read from Emily Dickinson was called “It bloomed and dropt, a Single Noon—.” This poem talks about a person who passes a flower in bloom and pays no attention to it. When the speaker comes back the next day the flower is dead. She realizes that if she would have just spent some time the day before with the flower she might have been able to save it. Nearing the end of the poem the speaker relates the flower to all of nature and says that by ignoring this one flower she has ignored all of nature.
The flower in the poem is a symbol for maybe a lost lover or someone that Emily Dickinson lost close to her. She is trying to say that you have to give attention to everything while you have it or one day you are going to look and it is going to be gone. In this poem the imagery is used to show the depression and guilt in the speaker. When you read this poem you can picture the dead flower and you can feel the pain the speaker feels. The imagery in this poem is used to set up the tone of sadness and regret.
Emily uses word choice and multiple meaning words to show how the speaker feels. She says “The Same Locality -- /The Sun in place – no other fraud” to show that the speaker came back to the same exact spot as the day before, at the exact same time, and the flower was gone. By saying this she is saying that she always took for granite that the flower would be there the next day when she walked by. She always thought that no matter how she treated the flower and how much time she spent with the flower it would always be there. As the poem continues and nears an end she is realizing that the flowers death is her fault because she ignored it and took advantage of it always being there and that she was acting selfish. Finally, the speaker realizes that she should have spent more time nurturing and caring for the flower instead of just figuring that it would be there the next day.
Emily Dickinson’s writing style tended to change as her moods changed. Many of her poems were very literal and used little connotations, symbols, or allusions while on the other hand many of her other poems were full of these same qualities. Emily very much wrote for herself and not for other people so sometime it is hard because she doesn’t always keep her same style of writing and use of literary terms. All of her poems were good it just depended on who was reading them and how they interpreted them.