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Nature Methodized

  • Richard E. Brantley

Abstract

In a letter to Thomas Wentworth Higginson in the spring of 1876, Emily Dickinson exclaimed, “It is still as distinct as Paradise—the opening your first Book—” (L 2:552). Thus Higginson’s Out-Door Papers (1863) seemed heavenly Barton Levi St. Armand traces verbal as well as thematic parallels between this prose of Higginson’s youth and the poetry of Dickinson’s prime. Higginson’s chapters on “My Outdoor Study,” “April Days,” “Water Lilies,” “The Procession of Flowers,” and “The Life of Birds” appealed to the poet most. As Higginson recognized in the 1890s, when he and Mabel LoomisTodd identified “Nature” as one of Dickinson’s chief subjects, this theme lies near the center of her imagination. (Judith Farr, linking Dickinson’s sunset- and landscape-lyrics to the sister-art of painting by the Hudson River School, shows, from the fresh perspective of her word-and-image methodology, just how creative Dickinson’s nature-poetry could be.) Dickinson’s permutations and combinations of time and space, of plants and animals illustrate her experience of faith, as well as her faith in experience. The “World” of phenomena, I argue, is “necessary … to school [Dickinson’s] Intelligence and make it a soul” (Keats to George and Georgiana Keats, February 14—May 3, 1819). Her “nature methodized” makes up the Paradise of her Late-Romantic imagination (Pope, “An Essay on Criticism” [1711], line 89).

Keywords

Ultimate Reality Mother Nature Natural Religion Natural Imagery Green Fuse 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

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© Richard E. Brantley 2004

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  • Richard E. Brantley

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