Emily Dickinson's Collected Poems

The Aesthetics of Emily Dickinson’s Riddle Poems College

In a riddle, nothing is as it seems. Words and images are twisted for the reader to unravel, and from these complexities, with a little cleverness, the true meaning of the piece can be deciphered. In Emily Dickinson’s riddle poems, “I like to see it lap the Miles”(383), “It sifts from Leaden Sieves”(291), and “A Route of Evanescence”(1489), aesthetic descriptive writing permits plain physical subjects to metamorphose into art itself. Dickinson’s cryptically composed aesthetic writing transforms the mundane objects into enigmatic and sublime images which complicate and enhance the lens through which the reader sees objects, allowing for an ameliorated perception of the aesthetics the physical world has to offer.

In “I like to see it lap the Miles” four stanzas of alternating tetra- and trimeter are used to relay an abstruse depiction of an iron horse, or a train. Through the use of a Lyric I, or anonymous speaker in the opening line, “I like to see it lap the Miles”(383, 1), along with the use of descriptions of valleys, quarries, and “a Pile of Mountains”(5), the reader is instantly transported to a verdant countryside, immersed within the poem’s aesthetic even before understanding what the subject of the poem is. The subject...

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