Belonging Representation

Dear Sir/ Madam 29/1/11
On behalf of the English Syllabus committee, I am writing to you to explain and justify the committee’s decision to include Emily Dickinson’s poems in the area of study – ‘Belonging’. In her poetry, Dickinson does not offer a simple distaste of belonging or a deep love for reclusion. Rather, through her poems This is My Letter to the World, I had Been Hungry All the Years and What mystery pervades a well, Dickinson presents the seemingly paradoxical perception that a person may both belong to and be alienated from society and nature. As an understanding of the subjective, transient nature of belonging is central to a student’s understanding of the area of study, particularly the realisation that ‘perceptions and ideas of belonging, or not belonging vary’, Dickinson’s representation of the paradoxical link between belonging and alienation is enormously beneficial for study.
Firstly, Dickinson’s poems demonstrate a sense of affinity with humanity. In This is my letter…, Dickinson’s choice of positive vocabulary in the last two lines, such as ‘love’, ‘sweet countrymen’ and ‘tenderly’, imply at the very least a desire for connection. In the phrase, ‘for love of her, sweet countrymen, judge tenderly of me’, Dickinson’s persona suggests that a common affection for nature offers a sense of connection and implores those who ‘share her country’ to consider this as a basis for kindness to her. Through her choice in words, value is given to belonging.’ In What mystery pervades a well, a more sombre value is given to belonging through the final stanza: ‘to pity those that know her not is helped by the regret, that those who know her know her less, the nearer that they get.’ In this example, the paradox of greater but lesser knowledge is used to draw connection between those – such as Dickinson’s persona – who know nature and those who do not. The conclusion is drawn that there is closeness between all people because of the unfathomable enigma that is...