Emily Dickinson references ideas common in Deist beliefs
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Although there are different Deist philosophies, one of the most consistent viewpoints is that our earth was created by a god who is like a blind watchmaker meaning that the Earth’s creator completed it without knowledge, but in a perfect order. Evidence of Dickinson’s belief can be acknowledged by Thomas Paine who wrote in Life and Writings of Thomas Paine, “This harmony in the works of God is so obvious, that the farmer of the field, though he cannot calculate eclipses, is as sensible of it as the philosophical astronomer. He sees the God of order in every part of the visible universe.” Paine’s statement corresponds with Dickinson observation that the Earth is a mathematically systematic creation, and in her writing she did acknowledge her beliefs in Deism, which can be observed in the last sentence, “You are punctual,” when she is speaking of “Father”. It is also evident that Dickinson intended to remark on her belief in a creator when she wrote in the second to the last line, “Father, I observed to Heaven”, which is also consistent with Deism.
Evidence in the belief of a creator, or as Dickinson exclaims a “Father”, in Deism, can be observed in Paine’s writing when he explains, “Since we know we did not create the creation or ourselves, yet we and the creation do exist, it is logical to believe that God, or an Eternal Cause or Creator created us.” Still further, in the beginning, Dickinson made reference to a “yellow star” which had “stepped” “to its lofty place”, which evidently she means that the star has a predestined place that it will be at a certain time. This can be construed as meaning that the creator meant for the star, or anything else in the universe for that matter, to be in an exact space and that it is predicted by laws and measurements of man, created by God, to be there. Lightly stepped a yellow star To its lofty place – Loosed the Moon her silver hat From her lustral Face – All of Evening softly lit As an Astral Hall – Father, I observed to Heaven, You are punctual.
Just as she believed that the creator made our Earth in complete order, so did Dickinson create her poem with certain order. For starters, 1672 has perfect rhythm. Lines 1, 3, 5, 7, possibly with the exception of line 7, have seven syllables. Although line 7 has 8 syllables, with the last word in the line “Heaven” throwing off the consistency, it can still be corrected when read properly. As do the odd lines of the poem, the even lines, 2,4,6,8, also show consistency 5 syllables, creating perfect harmony in Dickinson’s 8 lines, alternating the rhythm from 7 to 5 syllables in each line.
The rhyming of Dickinson’s 1672 is quite apparent with lines 2 and 4 rhyming, and lines 6 and 8 rhyming.
Also, the sonority of 1672 has an order. Dickinson created consonance throughout with a lot of “t” and “l” sounds. For example, the first line, “Lightly stepped a yellow star” contains 3 consonant t sounds in “Lightly”, “stepped”, and “star” and also 3 “l” consonant sounds, to being in “Lightly”, and one in “yellow”. Also in the first line the consonant sound of “st” can be heard when read allowed in “stepped” and “star”. She continues with the “l” and “t” theme throughout. In the second line the consonant “t” sound can be heard twice as well as the “l” sound in “To” and “its” and in “lofty” and “place” respectfully. In the third line Dickinson uses assonance in “Loosed” and “Moon” with the “oo” sound as well as following the theme of the “l” consonance in “Loosed” and “silver” while also using the “s” consonance in those two words. “Hat” also has a “t” sound following consonance with the other “t” sounds throughout. Not to mention the “er” assonance sound in “her” and “silver”.
The forth line contains two “l” sound in “lustral” , two “s” sounds in “lustral” and “Face” and an “st” sound consistent with “star” and “stepped” from the first line and “Astral” from the sixth line. Lines 3 and 4 also have the “h” consonance sound in the words “hat” from the third line and “her” from the forth. The fifth line, consistent with the rest has “l” and “s” consonance sounds in “All”, “softly”, and “lit”, and “softly” and “lit” respectfully, along with an “s” sound that is contained within every line besides the last. Line six has assonance in “As” “an” “Astral” and “Hall” with the “a” sound, while also following the theme with the “t” sound in “Astral”, the “s” sound in “As” and “Astral” and the “l” sound in “Astral” and “Hall”.
The word “Astral” in this fit consistently with four different sonority sounds making it the perfect word in both sonority and meaning. The seventh line “Father” and “observed” sound the “er” while “observed” also contains the “s” sound, and “to” contains the “t” sound which is consistent throughout. It is also apparent that Dickinson used the “h” sound in “hat”, “her” “Hall” and “Heaven” in lines 3,4,6, and 7 respectfully. In the final line, the word “punctual” has both the “t” and the “l” sounds consistent with the theme. Also mentionable is the “r” sound in “star” in line 1, corresponding with the same sound in “are” of the last line, and the reversed sound “ra” in the forth and sixth lines with “lustral” and “Astral” respectfully.
Paine, Thomas. Life and Writings of Thomas Paine. edited by Daniel Edwin Wheeler, 1908, Vincent Parke & Co., New York.