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Synopsis


The verses of Emily Dickinson belong emphatically to what Emerson
long since called "the Poetry of the Portfolio,"--something produced
absolutely without the thought of publication, and solely by way of
expression of the writer's own mind. Such verse must inevitably
forfeit whatever advantage lies in the discipline of public criticism
and the enforced conformity to accepted ways. On the other hand, it
may often gain something through the habit of freedom and the
unconventional utterance of daring thoughts. In the case of the
present author, there was absolutely no choice in the matter; she
must write thus, or not at all. A recluse by temperament and habit,
literally spending years without setting her foot beyond the
doorstep, and many more years during which her walks were strictly
limited to her father's grounds, she habitually concealed her mind,
like her person, from all but a very few friends; and it was with
great difficulty that she was persuaded to print, during her
lifetime, three or four poems.  Yet she wrote verses in great
abundance; and though brought curiously indifferent to all
conventional rules, had yet a rigorous literary standard of her own,
and often altered a word many times to suit an ear which had its own
tenacious fastidiousness.

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