Lunacy of Light: Emily Dickinson and the Experience of Metaphor

By Wendy Barker | Go to book overview

2 Dowering and Depriving
The Mighty Sun and His Yellow Whip

Of this is Day Composed
A morning and a noon
A Revelry unspeakable
And then a gay unknown
Whose Pomps allure and spurn
And dower and deprive
And penury for Glory
Remedilessly leave. Emily Dickinson (P 1675)

I am open then as a palm held out,
open as a sunflower, without
crust, without shelter, without
skin, hideless and unhidden.
How can I let you ride
so far into me and not fear? Marge Piercy1

My daughter, at eleven
(almost twelve), is like a garden.
Oh, darling! Born in that sweet
birthday suit
and having owned it and known it for so long,
now you must watch high noon enter -- Anne Sexton2

A ring of gold with the sun in it?
Lies. Lies and a grief. Sylvia Plath3

In 1852 Dickinson wrote her closest friend Sue a letter so dramatic that nearly every Dickinson critic has observed its significance. Recognized as an unusually extravagant expression of the poet's ambivalence toward sexual union, the "man of noon" letter was written in June of 1852 to Susan Gilbert, at the time engaged

-51-

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Lunacy of Light: Emily Dickinson and the Experience of Metaphor
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Ad Feminam: Women and Literature vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction - Gender, Hierarchy, and the Great Principle of Light 1
  • 1 - Broad Daylight, Cooking Stoves, and the Eye of God 31
  • 2 - Dowering and Depriving 51
  • 3 - Races Nurtured in the Dark 74
  • 4 - Dwelling in Possibility 102
  • 5 - Enacting the Difference A Whole New Metaphor Beginning Here 134
  • Notes 189
  • Index to Dickinson Poems Cited 207
  • Index 211
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