I have been reading my way through Dickinson's poems and have only reached the quarter mark at #450. First I have to say I had an amazing experience. To understand some of her poems I have to stretch and listen and remain open at a level that recreates the creative experience for me. After reading a number of her poems I've literally felt that I've written a poem myself. I've read and experienced that Dickinson tried to fashion her poems to throw the reader into the event that she was talking about. Devices she uses are paradoxes, eliptical sentences, NOT summing up a poem at the end, not giving you mental hand holds to take you through the poem. Sometimes she uses structures which literally scramble your brain such as beginning a poem with the end of a sentence and ending at the beginning. You follow her inner steps when you read her work. You have to since there is nothing else to hold onto. But what I am talking about carries this one step deeper. She gives you materials to go play in literally extraordinairy experiences. How does she do this? I don't know yet. I've just had the experience. I've ideas, but don't want to come up with a facile answer. I figure with 3/4 more poems to go it will sing to me. Or maybe not. I've learned that there are scholars who have spent over 30 years studying her work. Her scope is beyond breath.
By the way i'm reading her poems from: "The Poems of Emily Dickinson," (the reading edition) edited by R.W. Franklin of The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1998,1999. This edition is supposed to be the most complete and most accurate respresentation of the poems as they were written by Dickinson. Earlier editions changed her spelling, changed her punctuation to be "correct". Emily Dickinson had such a strong ear that she would change spellings, and had a whole system of dashes (rising up, down, long, short to indicate how to read the poem). She also had revisions and revisions and revisions making it very difficult to discover which was her favorite. Maybe the last one was. Maybe not. Maybe she was like Bob Dylan who is always changing how his songs are sung. As you can see, her kind of poetry writing is a publishers nightmare. Unfortunately, current printing practices being what they are the dashes cannot be duplicated. Franklin has painstakingly prepared these poems for publication always with respect and an ear on the poet. He's published another edition with all the versions, but this edition is pared down to one version per poem.