Emily Dickinson, as a poet, is not so easy to comprehend. Much of her poetry needs to be read multiple times, and much of what she is trying to say is hidden beneath the surface.  She often writes about her valuing nature, accepting death, or exploring religion. A term in class that we have been concentrating on is the camera obscura.  The camera obscura guaranteed access to an objective truth about the outside world.  This was a device that needed lightness and darkness to function properly, and helped the people of the time think and understand more about vision. According to Jonathan Crary, “the camera obscura was a demonstration of how an observer can know the world uniquely by perception of the mind.”  He goes on to say, “founded on laws of nature- that is, geometrical optics- the camera provided an infallible vantage point of the world.” Much like Dickinson’s poems that describe, “seeing”, the camera obscura shows us a view of  “seeing” the world as well.

In poem 648, Dickinson literally and figuratively describes a dying eye.  In comparing the camera obscura to this poem’s, “seeing”, we can actually start with this “Dying Eye”.  Vision is impossible without the eye, and obviously the camera obscura would be of no use without eyes.  This eye was “in search of something- as it seemed- then cloudier become- and then- obscure with Fog-.” Here is another reference to seeing.  The cloudier the air is, the more difficult it is to see.  Much like the camera obscura would be of no use, if we were trying to use it in a dense fog.  As the eye was searching for something and as it became more cloudy, the fog made things not clear and vague and difficult to view.   She goes on to describe how, “without disclosing what it be ‘twere blessed to have seen-” What I get out of this, is that many take advantage of how beautiful sight and seeing really are.  We are blessed to have working eyes, and a dying eye, should be grateful that he or she has seen such marvelous things.  Much like we should be grateful for the camera obscura.  This device paved the way for advanced technology today.  The camera obscura, like our eyes, showed us the truth and beauty of the world around us.

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One Response to “Dickinson. ” ‘Twere blessed to have seen- ””

  1.   Dominique Zino said:


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