Does Emily Dickinson Call Herself “the only kangaroo among the beauty” in One of Her Poems?

No. But she does in one of her letters.

In Emily Dickinson’s letter (dated July, 1862) to Thomas Higginson, a chief editor of The Atlantic Monthly, she writes this delicious, somewhat erotically suggestive, and arguably even naughty, paragraph:

Perhaps you smile at me. I could not stop for that. My business is circumference. An ignorance, not of customs, but if caught with the dawn, or the sunset see me, myself the only kangaroo among the beauty, sir, if you please, it afflicts me, and I thought that instruction would take it away.

And the paragraph is followed by this one:

Because you have much business, beside the growth of me, you will appoint, yourself, how often I shall come without your convenience.

Is it just me, or is Emily hinting to Higginson that she inclines to the masochistic? And was she writing her letters in such a way as to secure Higginson’s attention, and even turn him on?

Would Emily do such a thing?

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About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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1 Response to Does Emily Dickinson Call Herself “the only kangaroo among the beauty” in One of Her Poems?

  1. Andreas says:

    Actually, I think you’re wrong. ED was replying to one of Higginson’s letters in which he makes comments on her irregular use of rhymes and rhythm/meters in the poems she had mailed him, recommending to “streamline” or “soften” what he conceived “irregularities”, as compared to conventional poems of the time that were considered ‘beautiful’. And while she asked her mentor for instructions and criticism of her poems, she was not willing to change her personal style, but rather keep on “jumping like a kangaroo”.

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