Kakos' 6th Hour

Reactions and comments from my sixth hour Honors American Literature class.


My favorite place in the world to be is underwater. My second favorite place is the front of a classroom.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Letter to the World

Please read the following poem by Emily Dickinson and respond to the questions below:

This is my letter to the world,
That never wrote to me,
The simple news that Nature told,
With tender majesty.
Her message is committed
To hands I cannot see;
For love of her, sweet countrymen,
Judge tenderly of me!

What inferences could you make from this poem about Emily Dickinson as a poet and a person? Examine also her picture above and comment on her expression, clothing, and/or overall appearance. How does she strike you?


Blogger AArensdorf said...

In this poem, Emily Dickinson seems bitter or unsatisfied. She accuses the world of never awknowledging her when she says "...to the world that never wrote to me". She wants to tell the world about the "Simple news that nature told, with tender majesty". She seems to have a great admiration for nature. The last line:"Judge tenderly of me" seems to suggest that she is apologetic, or wants to be judged well by the world.
Dickinson's writing style is subtle, and a little cryptic. she writes poems to be analyzed and read more than once before any meaning can be understood, this makes me think that she had a more secretive or quiet nature.
In the picture, her clothes and hair are both simple and modest. These suggest again that she has a quiet or reserved nature.
Her mouth, however, is interesting because it appears to be ready to talk, which suggests that she was opinionated. She may have liked to share her ideas with the world, though instead of speaking them, I infer that she wrote most of them down instead.

3:06 PM  
Blogger Tori S said...

Emily Dickinson seems very proper and dressed in plain clothes. She isn't anything compelling or special but she seems to really enjoy nature and her surroundings. Her poem is almost accepting an apolgy from earth for never speaking to her. She is very in tune with nature.

4:12 PM  
Blogger Michelle S said...

Like the previous commenters said, Dickinson is very plainly dressed, appearing to be very humble. She looks like nothing special, but nothing repulsive either. She seems deferential to nature, as she spoke "Her [Nature's] message is committed/To hands I cannot see", as if she puts herself beneath comprehension of the world around her. Perhaps she is admitting her own insignificance on the face of the earth, asking "her countrymen" to "judge me tenderly", or look upon her actions, perhaps, kindly, because she realizes that her actions are dwarfed by the all-encompassing Nature. To emphasize that attitude, in the picture she seems to be holding a flower in her hands, as if that idea were a part of her. She does not appear to be the kind of person who is vain, or that would attempt to appear more than who she is.

4:26 PM  
Blogger corey c said...

She appears very plain and seems to look extremely young to me in comparison with other poets. She seems angry in her poem with its beginning, "This is my letter to the world, that never wrote to me,". It seems like she's expressing anger at the world and feels like the world is bad/unking. She looks very plain and would strike me as a very humble person were it not for the first two lines of her poem. Her expression is very light and seems to be thinking of other things.

5:23 PM  
Blogger A_Nielsen said...

Through this poem I could infer that Emily Dickinson was a very talented and creative poet and recived her ideas for poetry through nature and possibly human-world realtionships. As a perosn I somehow go the feeling that Dickinson may have been self conscious. For some reason I think this peom might relate to how her poetry was percived to the public and how men dominated liturature in her time.

In the picture, Dickinson seems very young and plain. Her dress seems very structured and simple and possibly is a very dull color. At first she stikes me as being very gentle, kind and logical.

5:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a poet, Dickinson seems to adopt a very direct writing style in that she doesn’t, in this instance, to use any flamboyant language or complex metaphors to get her point across. Instead, the intense gravity of her message speaks for itself – as, I would infer, was the case with her as a person as well.
In the picture, Emily Dickinson is wearing very plain clothes, offering the impression that she placed little or no value in the beauty that can be achieved through makeup and pieces of cloth – much in the same way her poem’s beauty isn’t achieved through the use of intricate word choice and use of literary elements.
I would infer from the last lines of the poem, “For love of her, sweet countrymen, Judge tenderly of me!” that the poem itself is almost a justification of her as a person, and a poet. My interpretation of her “Letter to the World” is that although she does not know her fate or the fate of others, she believed her writing was a gift given to her by nature, or God, and out of respect for the forces that she believed influence the lives of everyone on this planet, she should not be judged as a human being solely by her writing.

5:51 PM  
Blogger Christine D said...

Like others before me, i think that Emily Dickinson is angry and the world, at almost depressed because of it. "This is my letter to the world, That never wrote to me" seems depressing to me, but at the same time, Emily Dickinson seems to love nature and respect nature, using words like majesty. Also, i agree that she seems plain from the picture, but thats to us and maybe she would have been viewed differently when she lived.

5:52 PM  
Blogger katie_r said...

She is wearing very plain clothes, making her seem olden. Her poem makes it sound like she loves the earth very much, and it seems that, even though the earth never "wrote" to her, it still spoke to her through its majesty and wonder.

5:55 PM  
Blogger Andie R said...

She seems to be shy, or at the very least sensible and perhaps proper. She dresses simply, but in her face you can see a spark of a personality that does not come across in her clothes. She looks like she has a secret, or knows more than anyone thinks she does, and she is enjoying that knowledge by sharing it only with herself. She seems to be a type that expresses herself through writing, and says the things she wouldn't dare vocalize through her poetry. Also, the last line of the poem says "judge tenderly of me!". To me that says that she did care what other people thought of her (even if she did not want to care) and perhaps that may be because she was a female writer trying to earn her place with the males. She also seems to be religious, since nature's majesty is "committed to hands I cannot see", or a higher being.

6:36 PM  
Blogger ryanp said...

From The poem, I come to the conclusion that Emily is one of the people who was never accepted as a child. I think she is trying to say that she attempted to befriend the world in a sense but the powers of nature shot her back down into her place of society. In the picture she looke very young and almost malnourished. It seems as though she was a young schoolgirl who had some tough times to her life.

7:23 PM  
Blogger KristinC said...

Emily Dickinson strikes me as a very humble, lost person. She wants to please people but doesn't know how. She is lacking confidence that I would have thought she posessed. From her picture I can see that she is very skinny and frail and looks very young and almost childlike. She looks sad and lonely and it seems she just wants to be loved by someone else because she may have been deprived of a normal childhood.

7:57 PM  
Blogger allison n said...

Emily Dickinson, to me, seems playful and very sharp. I get a sarcastic tone from the line "Judge tenderly of me!" as if to mock the fragility of a woman’s character. Many people have commented that she looked frail and sad, but when I first saw the picture, I thought the opposite. She has somewhat of a mischievous smirk about her that I rather like.

8:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Emily Dickenson seems like a woman who isn't afraid to express what she thinks. She sees herself being mistreated and writes a poem about it. I also agree with Allison N that even though she may look sort of dorky in her picture I don't think it is a good representation of who she is. I don't really know anything about Emily Dickenson so I may be totally off here but she seems like a very strong willed person.

8:16 PM  
Blogger matt l said...

The thing I got from this poem was that Emily Dickinson viewed the world as something that she gave to, but never got anything back. I believe Emily Dickinson had some insecurities of some sort, and wished to erase them through her writing. Looking at the picture, Emily Dickinson seems sort of confused with what her life's purpose is. She looks tired and lost, and it comes through in her writing.

8:22 PM  
Blogger Hannah S said...

To me, Emily Dickinson seems like a person who is disappointed in her country, yet proud of it also. She speaks very highly of it, saying that she loves it, but she seems angry when she says "This is my letter to the world, That never wrote to me,". She looks like a very plain, ordinary person, yet she has a look on her face almost as if she is trying to understand you.

8:27 PM  
Blogger Olivia C. said...

I must agree with Sarah S. as Emily Dickinson repeatedly conveys her emotions (throughout most of her poetry) without having to use elaborate and illustrative metaphors. Her subtle manner in incoporating relationships between objects and individuals is strong simply because it need not be "flamboyant" (as Sarah stated). If one were to judge Dickinson by her appearance, I suppose that many might feel she was simple and inferior to other women of her era. Yet, her amazing ability to influence those through her writing is seen in her picture as she is seemingly independent and yet so influential. Dickinson seems to be content and aware not only of her sorroundings but of herself- such an understanding is brilliantly displayed throughout her work. I enjoyed reading Kristin's description of Dickinson's photo because I understand how one might suppose such a conclusion. Not knowing Dickinson's background, I am not one to state for certain how she grew up, however I must disagree with Kristin to some degree. Emily Dickinson certainly displays herself as one of complete humility however I do not feel that independence and simplicity derives from a neglective childhood. I suppose that might be an explanation for her frail figure however I don't believe a restrictive childhood would have produced such a strong individual. Dickinson's elaborate personality is presented strongly and repetitively through her poems and through such images that seem to portray her as a woman of extreme infleunce. I would be excited to learn more about her (and her works) in class...

8:38 PM  
Blogger Alexandra H said...

I agree with Sarah and Olivia when they say that Emily Dickinson conveys her emotion through her poetry. It seems as if she is telling the world how she feels about it and the life around her. It could just be this poem but it also seems like she enjoys nature and what it brings to the world. It also seems like she cares about what other people think and she is trying to get them to see her way. In her picture, she looks like a thin woman who cares somewhat about her looks. Her hair is neat and tidy which shows that she probably likes order and she has a sort of grimace on her face. She strikes me as a person who is very proper and orderly.

8:49 PM  
Blogger LindsayS said...

She seems very plain to me, as many people have stated before, and her poem seems very straight forward. She seems to be displeased but not to a point of hatred or anger; she is just stating the facts.

8:53 PM  
Blogger nicci c said...

Emily Dickinson appears to be a very plain, ordinary person. There is nothing completely unusual about her apperance because of the fact that everything on her is basic and not exaggerated. She dosen't seem to appear like she wanted to stand out. Her poem seems to tell that she is almost afraid that her fellow people will judge her wrongly. Still, she keeps faith in nature, or something to the likes, and hopes that it will take care of her.

9:02 PM  
Blogger Thomas_N said...

From the poem it seems like she is trying to give to the world but she does not want or need anything back. She looks like she is sad or angry. The clothes she is wearing are very plain and simple as though she does not need anything fancy in life.

9:10 PM  
Blogger anam said...

I think that Emily Dickinson is a very simplistic person by looking at her appearance. Her hair is tightly pulled back into a bun and her dress seems like it is only one color, and does not have much design on it. She does not seem like a very happy person because she is not smiling, but that might be because of how long it used to take to capture a picture of a person. I think that in her writing she comments that she is not appealing to any of the men around her, compared to the attainable, wondrous beauty. Her writing also seems simple as well on the surface, but I think that her words can be interpreted in several different ways.

9:29 PM  
Blogger christineT said...

She is dressed plainly in dark colors that match her dark hair. Her poem tells me that she enjoys nature and feels close to it, but is sad because it has never done anything special for her, but she forgives it. She does this because she knows it is necessary to be kind to nature so that it in turn will be kind to her and help her have good fortune.

9:33 PM  
Blogger Aubry P. said...

Emily seems like a very analytical person who has anger and strength within her but seems very frail on the outside. She has an air of determination about her but also looks a little unsure.She starts off strong with the poem and then ends with a cry for help. She is like any other young person, confidant at one minute and confused and needing help at the next.

9:53 PM  
Blogger Alexaaaaa said...

Unlike most of the people above me, I disagree with the thought that Dickenson's appearance has anything to do with her personality, especially as far as her expression goes. For all we know, she might wear this particular style of garment one day out of the year. It is folly to assume to know a person by the expression they have in a photograph. You know them at that moment in time, and that moment of time alone. Any assumptions beyond this that turn out to be true are pure coincidence.

The poem strikes me far more than the picture. It tells me that she places great faith in god's ability to unify humanity, and that this feeling was in conflict with disgust towards humanity at the time she wrote it, herself possibly included in the disgusting part of humanity. Only an intellectual could have produced this poem, that much is certain.

10:01 PM  
Blogger Amy O. said...

I love the way Emily Dickenson writes! I have read that she had a reclusive lifestyle, and lived mostly in her bedroom, seldom leaving her home. With this knowledge, it was interesting to consider her writing a poem alone in her room to the world outside of where she lives, a world that she has little experience in.

She has a humble, yet as Aubrey said, analytical style of writing. It seems that following the last phrase starting with "for love of her..." she tells the reader that her poems are about the world. Consequently, the reader's view of the world and the "message of nature" will determine their interpretation of her poetry as well.

10:18 PM  
Blogger brianc said...

I think that this poem does a good job of describing how utterly alone she feels in the world. She seems to feel as if she is an outcast and does not belong with everyone else. She sounds as if she wants someone to reach out to her but no one is and that frightens her. She is jealous of what everyone else has in friendship and wishes that she could belong among others and have people to care about her. From the picture she looks very stiff and rigid and out of place.

9:06 PM  
Blogger AaronW said...

I think Aubrey A's explanation of the poem is spot on, and I have little else to add onto it. I do believe that the last line actually means that she doesn't want to be judged by the world, even though she is.

Her picture reinforces what I had thought of her before seeing it. She seems really timid, and very small. She also seems anxious because her lips are pressed together in a worried way. The rest of her seems pretty nonchalant and relaxed though.

3:28 PM  

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