One inquiry that confounds readers of Emily Dickinson ‘s poesy is why she was so loath to hold her work known in her life-time. Not even her household knew, until after her decease, the extent of Dickinson ‘s authorship, that she had left behind 1,775 verse forms. “ Publication-is the Auction, ” poem # 709, provides some penetration into Dickinson ‘s thought. She compares publication to an “ Auction / Of the Mind of Man ” ( 1-2 ) , and non even poverty truly justifies it. To sell what has been given you and is merely yours while you are on Earth is like cut downing the “ Human Spirit / To Disgrace of Price ” ( 15-16 ) . In this verse form, Dickinson equates the publication of verse forms to the merchandising of her ego. Not printing, so, is a signifier of self-preservation.
When Dickinson writes in # 709- ” Publication-is the Auction ” that it is better to avoid “ so foul a thing ” ( 4 ) and alternatively travel “ White-Unto the White Creator ” ( 7 ) , she compares her authorship to “ Snow ” ( 8 ) . She lets the reader know that publication represents a sullying of the “ Snow, ” a shame to what is godly and God-given ( from the “ White Creator, ” who is himself pure ) . It is non merely deity contained in the verse form, she argues, but besides the “ Human Spirit ” ( 15 ) . Although these are obliging grounds to guard against any debasement of her work, these are non the lone grounds Dickinson gives for non prosecuting publication and the celebrity that ( she feared? ) might follow. In # 1659- ” Fame is a volatile nutrient, ” she compares celebrity to an overly rich and finally unwholesome repast. Here, as frequently in Dickinson ‘s verse forms, the birds are possessed of a cognition that human existences do non hold. The birds look at the “ crumbs ” of celebrity and “ Flap yesteryear it to the / Farmer ‘s Corn- / Men eat of it and decease ” ( 8-10 ) . Those birds are a stand-in for the poet, their vocal and her vocal, even their “ dry caw, ” much her ain. But “ Fame is a volatile nutrient ” besides speaks to a fright that celebrity would be ephemeral if it came at all. In verse form # 1763, quoted instantly below in its entireness, she states compactly: “ Fame is a bee. / It has a song- / It has a sting- / Ah, excessively, it has a wing. ” It seems her emotions here are traveling someplace between hankering and fright.
And so the pull between publication ( and the celebrity she seemed to believe would come with it ) and the realisation of her work on her ain footings remained a preoccupation. As she recounted to T. W. Higginson ( Dickinson ‘s friend and advisor, he was the editor of the Atlantic Monthly ) , there were the occasional calls from editors who wished to print her work. She wrote and told him: “ Two editors of diaries came to my male parent ‘s house this winter, and asked me for my head, and when I asked them ‘why ‘ they said I was hard up, and they would utilize it for the universe ” ( 405 ) . The “ universe ” that the editors would utilize it for, nevertheless, was non the universe that most concerned Dickinson. The aspiration in her to travel beyond the concerns of this universe, to even, possibly, achieve a celebrity beyond this universe, is but one of the more absorbing facets of her. The power of this adult female, whose life appears so limited, who could state, “ I feel the presence of that within me, unobserved, yet ineffably mighty, that can grok universes & A ; systems of universes & A ; yet can non grok itself ” ( 241 ) , is to be wondered at.
is why it is uneven to happen a critic who would conceive of that Dickinson “ possessed power in copiousness but she confined it to the talker of her poetry ” ( Bennett 43 ) , so clearly does her power exhibit itself in all she does. Her originality caused William Dean Howells to welcome Dickinson as a “ typical add-on to the literature of the universe ” ( Benfey 40 ) . Emily Dickinson would non sell the substance of herself, her words. To her, her gift was greater than gold. When the universe was ready for Dickinson the poet, it found her.