An Elegant Exposition of Dickinson

Oh, there are so many, many good things available on the web--here's another via Books Inq.  (a marvelous blog for sources if there ever were one.)

On "The soul selects her society. . ."

An excerpt of this interesting reading:
Mark Richardson

Now, it is not possible grammatically to sever the first line from its successors in this stanza, which leads me to the second point I’d make: the grammar is equivocal, in that the stanza admits of several possible readings. We might read the stanza as follows (and here I will print it, for illustrative purposes, in sentence form): 1) “The soul selects her own society, then shuts the door. To her divine majority, present no more.” Or we might read it: 2) “The souls selects her own society, then shuts the door to her divine majority, present no more.” Or: 3) The soul selects her own society, then shuts the door to her divine majority. Present no more.” In examples 1 & 3 “present” is a verb, with the accent on the second syllable; in example 2, it is an adjective, with the accent on the first. So, how to decide? Because if I am to read the poem aloud, I must decide what to do with my voice. Dickinson’s eccentric punctuation, here, as in many another place, leaves more than one possibility open.

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