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When Dickinson explores the tangled woods of a terrified psyche, her speakers meet goblins that put Lowell’s and Emerson’s frights and fancies to shame.
Critics have applied various interpretive frameworks to the image of the goblin itself, but very little has been said on how the four major goblin poems are in conversation with each other.
The appearance of the goblin character links the four poems together and reveals that, though approaching the matter from different subjects, the poems represent four attempts to come to terms with a horrific trauma.
mak[ing] an early distinguished appearance in 1667 with Milton’s Paradise Lost: ‘To whom the Goblin [Death] replied’ (line 668)” (3).
The goblin persisted, appearing in less canonical works of literature during Dickinson’s life.
She wrote the paper for Susan Van Zanten's upper–division course.
Emily Dickinson’s eighteen hundred or so poems span a variety of subjects, but critics and readers alike have been drawn to her depictions of the darker experiences of life.It appears adjectivally in “If you were coming in the fall” (Fr 356) and “Did you ever stand in a cavern’s mouth” (Fr 619), but the goblin also makes more significant appearances as the personification of a fright that harasses the speakers of “The Soul has Bandaged moments—” (Fr 360), “It would never be Common – more – I said –” (Fr 388), “‘Twas like a Maelstrom, with a notch” (Fr 425), and “I think to Live – may be a Bliss” (Fr 757).Though the goblin’s appearance is scattered across six different fascicles, R. Franklin dates all the goblin poems as written in the same year of 1862.Dickinson was not the only poet to feature goblins in the nineteenth century, and a brief look at some of the goblin’s other literary appearances provides a sense of context for the term.As Daneen Wardrop details in her study of the goblin, it was “A miscreant present in literary history as early as the fourteenth century…The image of the frightful goblins, whether persisting from the childhood threats or presented in other poems and stories Dickinson read, was significant enough to become part of Dickinson’s poetic repertoire, and she enlists the goblin as a supporting character in poems that depict extreme psychological torment.The terrifying creatures of her poems stand in stark contrast to the harmless goblins invoked to warn young Dickinson of the forest’s dangers. Interactive EDIS Group site for discussion of events, publications, performances and other public witnesses about reading Dickinson, about reading poetry.EDIS Fan site, with information about events, publications, and other announcements. In 2015, the Emily Dickinson International Society launched a prize for undergraduate research on Emily Dickinson. The winning essay will be published on the EDIS website and the author will receive an award of 0.Goblins, however, were certainly on Dickinson’s mind, as we can see from one of her letters from August of 1862 in which she recounts a story she was told as a child about goblins.Writing to Thomas Wentworth Higginson in response to a warning she felt was unwarranted, she describes what happened when she ignored a caution she received as a child: “When much in the Woods as a little Girl, I was told that the Snake would bite me, that I might pick a poisonous flower, or Goblins kidnap me, but I went along and met no one but Angels, who were far shyer of me, than I could be of them” (Dickinson 415).