Review of “Many a Phrase Has the English Language” (1861/1862)


Emily Dickinson (writer).

Read in 2021.

The ambiguity of the poem is not helped by the fact that I have seen one word of Dickinson’s handwriting transcribed as “Sexton” and, in the 2018 Arcturus print edition I read first, as “Saxon”.

Susan Kornfeld interprets this poem as mysticism on the edge of the expressible, like “The Love a Life Can Show Below” (1862/1863). If that is true, then the final stanza of this poem indicates the abhorrent narcissism of those mystics who, in their madness, wish to monopolize their imagined access to the supernatural to elevate themselves.

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