Emily Dickinson: Fascicle 16

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Dash Analysis Graph

Percentage of Dash Reduction in Published Versions Compared to Originals 25% 50% 75% 100% Percentage of Reduction Poem 1 Poem 2 Poem 3 Poem 4 Poem 5 Poem 6 Poem 7 Poem 8 Poem 9 Poem 10 Poem 11 The Poems of Emily Dickinson, Centenary Edition ➙Letter to Susan Dickinson ➙Atlantic Monthly ➙Bolts of Melody ➛Final Harvest ➙Further Poems ➙Poems, Third Series ➙Poems, Second Series ➙Poems

Dash Analysis Findings

Emily Dickinson is known for her frequent usage of dashes in her poetry. While this is not entirely unique, it is something that she used in abundance and something that the editors changed quite often in the published editions of Dickinson's poems. Since the dashes were changed so often, our group decided to use their presence in the poems to measure how true the sampled published versions were to Dickinson's original Fascicle 16 manuscripts. This graph measures the percentage of dashes that were removed in the published versions.

This graph uses colored lines with dots to represent the published versions of the poems. The complete bibliographic information can be viewed on our Bilbiography page. The images we worked with were found on Michele Ierardi's original website. and the Emily Dickinson Archive for the letter version of poem 11.

The published editions that replaced the dashes the most will appear closer to the top, near the 100% line. The editions that represented the dashes closest to Dickinson's original manuscript will appear closer to the bottom. Dots located directly on the bottom line represent published editions that left the dashes as they appear in the manuscripts. If a poem is not represented in a specific edition, the dot will simply not be displayed. Looking at the graph, the "Final Harvest" edition is collectively closest to the bottom, meaning that it has the lowest percentage of dashes removed, and therefore the closest edition to the original manuscript in terms of dashes. The rest of the editions (with the exception of poem 11) remove 50% or more of her dashes. Poem 11 is a little difficult because the poem that was published in the "Centenary Edition" was a different version of the poem that was bound with Fascicle 16. We used a different manuscript—the letter to Susan Dickinson— to compare the published edition to. Therefore, the letter didn't remove any dashes because Dickinson kept the dashes in the same places in both original manuscripts, and only changed the pronouns.

The omission or replacement of the dashes with other punctuation may not seem like a big deal, but it completely changes the way the poem is read, and can even change the meaning completely. The published editions that change the dashes are not only changing Dickinson's styling, but her meaning as well. For a more in-depth look at how the meaning is altered, please refer to our Conclusion page. Further studies to be considered would include looking at what other punctuation was removed or omitted and how that changed meaning within the poem, similar to the dash study. Another notable change is in capitalization. Dickinson would often capitalize internal words, usually to emphasize the importance of that word. Many published editions of her poems feature the originally capitalized words in lowercase, thus removing the emphasis. A study could be conducted to measure the frequency that the capitalization is changed.