The conscious mind of Emily Dickinson


When we look at poetry by Emily Dickinson today, we get strange big letters and a multitude of dashes which yet cannot give the special Bees, Birds, or Ears any real sense. To blame the reader

— “you know, the author was a mystic, metaphysical, only high minds get it” —

a Mystical Bee remains unappealing on a High Mind as well.


We can read comments over the Internet.


I’ve heard of her my whole life of course, but have never read anything of hers.


A very detailed analysis for those interested in Emily Dickinson.


I have not read Emily Dickinson’s poetry, nor am I inclined to.


Emily Dickinson’s poetry was a tremendous success with the people of her times. It remains in curricula. You learn about Emily Dickinson at school. Serious institutions hold conferences about her. A book of her poetry would be in the bookstore round the corner. Only the verse would look like this:


Babbles the Bee in a stolid Ear,

Pipe the Sweet Birds in ignorant cadence —


It did not look so in the first print. Present-day prints rely on a manuscript find.

Safe in their alabaster chambers, Wikisource. Click to enlarge.


Are there really special Bees or Ears, and Birds as Sweet as to shy away the bitter species, in Emily Dickinson’s poetry? Not only Wikisource would insist there are, indeed.


Safe in their alabaster chambers; click to enlarge.


Let us consider the manuscript, for the em-dash. I do believe this is an autograph.


The manuscript has “low dashes”. The markings belong well with the habit of the hand. This habit also has an open e that closes for sibilant clusters, for example. We can compare diadems, Doges, and soundless. Spoken language mattered in Emily Dickinson’s notation. The habit of the hand was strong.


The strength of the habit is not in calligraphy. It is in grasping language. We can see the “low dash” also around the name of the addressee, Suz, and Emily Dickinson deserves praise for linguistic prowess on some grounds.


Let us think about language and inspiration, reading the poetry. Emily Dickinson consciously used Latin and Greek, to write fancy pieces. The occurrence is beyond mere coincidence or unaware habit.


(Time and Eternity, XVIII, Playmates) Latin: collusor, companion at play; condiscipulus, school-mate; angelus, a messenger, an angel; lapillus, small stone, pebble (marble?); lusus, a game;  Greek: ὁμηλυσία, omelusia, companionship.


God permits industrious angels

Afternoons to play.

I met one, — forgot my school-mates,

All, for him, straightway.


God calls home the angels promptly

At the setting sun;

I missed mine. How dreary marbles,

After playing Crown!


The inspiration is morpho-phonemic. Let us now analyze the big letters for natural phonology.


Mine (Love, I, p. 91) suggests me of a rare book, possibly on Greek poetry or philosophy, and an ex libiris. The white vote was that of approval in ancient Greece, which in matters of the state yet had to be affirmed by officials named the prytaneis, hence prawem głosu prytejskim, in my translation. Feel welcome to the First Series afterword.



Mine by the Right of the white election!

Mine by the Royal seal!

Mine by the sign in the sCaRlet pRison

BaRs Cannot Conceal!


Mine, here in Vision and in Veto!

Mine, by the GRave’s Repeal

Titled, confiRMed,-— deliRious chaRteR!

Mine, while the ages steal!


Mine, Wikisource. Click to enlarge.

I made the markings above, to translate the poem into Polish. Everyone is individual in phonology; Polish and American English differ much in sound and structure, yet not being as distanced as American and Chinese, for example. Standard, human mouths are born the same, world round. There are “more difficult” and “easier” speech sounds, and you do not get some language patterns, as *spin spun span. In short, it is natural to mark the words, when you work phonemics.


Co KRaty go nie ujarzmią!

Mój,  z poglądem tu i KontRą!

Mój, ponad uMieRanie

Tytułem, afiRMowany, — niepoMiaRkowaną KaRtą!


You can mark speech sounds within words, or write the words with big letters. If we click the Wikisource, we find there even is an overlap, in phonemic marking.


Most importantly, Emily Dickinson was aware of capitalization as in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, or the Bill of Rights


The documents did not invent standards. They continue to show capitalization as part preserved also today. In the light, the markings and big letters belong with drafts of her pieces, not the final forms. Thomas Wentworth Higginson and Mabel Loomis Todd knew the draft features and ignored them with print. Well, we do not follow Jefferson’s “rough draught” for the Declaration of Independence, either. ;)


Why I stay by Emily Dickinson’s first print

We may fancy a look at a few more pieces.  (Life, XXIII, Unreturning) ἀνάπλυσις, anaplusis, washing or rinsing out; ἀνήλυσις, anelusis, going up, return; ἤλυσις, elusis, step, gait; lenunculus, a small sailing-vessel, bark, skiff (the toddling little boat).


‘T was such a little, little boat

That toddled down the bay!

‘T was such a gallant, gallant sea

That beckoned it away!


‘T was such a greedy, greedy wave

That licked it from the coast;

Nor ever guessed the stately sails

My little craft was lost!


We can compare the Greek -upo/ypo- for I asked no other thing (Life, XII, p. 213): ἰσότυπος, isotypos, shaped alike, συνυπόπτωσις, synypoptosis, simultaneous presentation to the senses; Latin cauponarius, a male shopkeeper, tradesman, ποπτερνίς, upopternis, a knob (a kind of a button that can twirl, in the modern use), and πo, below, looking a picture up and down (as Brazil on a map).


I asked no other thing,

No other was denied.

I offered Being for it;

The mighty merchant smiled.


Brazil? He twirled a button,

Without a glance my way:

“But, madam, is there nothing else

That we can show to-day?”


You may be interested in the Uncouth love theme (the “suspicious” love of language) or the thematic stanza in Emily Dickinson’s poetry, too. :)


No men, women, children, or houses with the pie


William JonesWilliam Jones was a reported hyperpolyglot. He learned Greek, Latin, Persian, Arabic, Hebrew, and basic Chinese, says Wikipedia to add he knew thirteen languages thoroughly, and another twenty-eight reasonably well.

Mr. Jones wrote The Sanscrit Language to tell that Greek and Latin had a common root, Sanskrit. This Proto-Indo-European “language”, PIE in short, was to originate contemporary European tongues.

Altogether, Mr. Jones remains described as having had at least reasonably good knowledge of 41 tongues. Such a reasonably good acquaintance should have encompassed the words woman, man, child, and house. Let us compare these words in Latin, Greek, English, Russian, Polish, German, French, and Sanskrit.

Is there a root PIE vocabulary?


Woman silhouetteWOMAN

Latin: femina; Greek: gyne; English: woman; Russian: zenshchina; Polish: kobieta; German: Weib; French: femme; Sanskrit: nari.

Man silhouetteMAN

Latin: vir; Greek: andros; English: man; Russian: muzshtschina; Polish: mężczyzna; German: Mann; French: homme; Sanskrit: naro.

I do not know Sanskrit. I can only compare resources. The morpheme man, as quoted by supporters of the PIE, yet seems to refer to thinking, not sex. It is common lore that masculinity is not strictly synonymous with pensiveness. ;)


Child silhouetteCHILD

Latin: putillus; Greek: pais; English: child; Russian: rebionok; Polish: dziecko; German: Kind; French: enfant; Sanskrit: sutah.

Words for children would have varied in Sanskrit. The culture has been publicized as rigidly stratified, in status and ancestry. “Children of men” made another name, napraja. The notion is unlikely to have regarded speciate or sexual differentiation.

House silhouetteHOUSE

Latin: domus; Greek: do; English: house; Russian: dom; Polish: dom; German: Haus; French: maison; Sanskrit: vasati.

Vir or andros, child or rebionok, woman or kobieta ― the words do not resemble one another, and they are the basic vocabulary. In all languages, these are the words hardly ever to change. Polish and Russian could make a group. We may compare the words muzshtschina and mężczyzna. There is not much point deriving Polish from Russian or Russian from Polish, however. We can compare rebionok and dziecko.

Domus, do, and dom, or house and Haus, show geographic affinity. The similarities in form are characteristic of urban or other developments and do not decide on language grouping.

Language groups or families

Language groups work better than language families. “Families” derive languages, one from another. This might not work, as in the Polish and Russian examples above. Proto-languages are mostly constructs: there is no written evidence for them.

Whatever the finds, the fact will remain that people speak languages as the tongues are, without looking up to any “parent languages”. Within evolutionary approaches, languages may have emerged independently, owing to human cognitive advancement. Much language knowledge has become shared among humans, also owing to intellectual progress, as in terms on architecture.

Why derive European vocabularies from Sanskrit, while Sanskrit might have absorbed loan words?

There is no evidence for the Proto-Indo-European. The Rosetta Stone was absolutely unique for Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, the Demotic, and Ancient Greek. It yet allowed translation, not an etymological study to provide for a PIE. Finally, Marco Polo was probably not the first visitor to the Far East. 

Carbon dating

Whenever possible, written resources should be carbon-dated. There is no philological method to affirm the original beyond evidence. Writings were copied in Antiquity, the Middle Ages and later, hand style and pen craft.

Radiocarbon results happen to be misunderstood. A website shares a story about a find from 9.5 thousands of years ago. It is … a piece of wood from an underwater site, without written matter. The picture on the left shows an archaeological find dated with pollen. Palynology is less likely to work for written resources.

Oldest does not mean wisest

Able to appraise linguistic craft and inspiration ― see The conscious mind of Emily Dickinson ―  I appreciate modern languages as some progress since the Antiquity. I would not have a share in the enthusiasm about deriving language roots. In ancient times, people were mostly illiterate, lived without running water, and had many health problems. The lifestyle diseases of the present day are those the Ancients could have never gotten as … they could never live that long. Intellectually, people were not more sophisticated than today. One needs to be very selective, seeking wisdom in olden times.

Compare A New People Come.

However, supporters of the Proto-Indo-European “family” have gone into making out religion, too. There is not a PIE root for the name “Earth”.

Earth silhouetteEARTH

Latin: terra or tellus; Greek: Gaia or Aia; English: Earth; Russian: Ziemlia; Polish: Ziemia; German: Erde; French: Terre; Sanskrit: vasudha.

It seems there was a pie more than the PIE, Mr. Jones time, and that pie was India. The colonial era began about 1500, and there was much competition.

Deriving the humanity from the outer space, again, would not make much difference on contemporary standards of living. Space 1999 would show reading Proto-Sanskrit accurately … ;)

My YouTube: Sanskrit Readout

The holocaust in the clip is not the Holocaust.

British grammar nazis

GrammerDisclaimer: the adjacent — and colored meaningfully yellow — graphic piffle is not intended to mean the Union Jack proper. It is the British Grammar Nazis logo on Facebook.

British grammar nazis header




The logo dubious pulchritude may be seen in its full form on the right here, also with a click.


Much has been written about WWII. Evidently, mere gathering orthography and other detail does not make one capable of text interpretation. The Daily Mash got misread, same as Thomas Weber: some guys focus on the words “rhetoric” and “confirmed” too much. 


Without going into matters like the meaning of life, or the spoken lore on WWII and British losses — invaluable for those hard of reading — let me think text, statistics, and implications.

Daily mash

Daily Mash

British grammar nazis shares

GN (Grammar Nazis) Facebook



The Daily Mash article appears full size, when clicked.



The GN (Grammar Nazis) reactions page does the same. Should there be visiting GNs,   I promise a brief primer on irony after this indispensable piece of advice on living with them on the same planet.



The site has about 50 thousand “likes”. Taking the British population alone, that would make about 50 thousand functionally illiterate, among about 63 million people. Some might say it is not so bad, it is not even one percent. Still, you’d better think literacy, going to the UK: the guys wouldn’t have had the UK flag their capriccio, if it were not permitted. More, such odd types tend to occupy big towns.



Try for a plain passport photo, that is, without brooches, scarves, ties, anything you do not always carry. The piffle shows the guys’ attention to picture specifics. ;)


Remember to wave your hand, getting a taxi. It is a simple, therefore legible gesture. Try to get a map with statues and other tourist attractions in large icons. It is better to take a walk from the National Museum than end up the Piccadilly, owing to small print. ;)


In hotels, always tick the boxes. Ask for those straight, should you be provided with a form without boxes to tick. ;)


Mailing letters, get the recorded: they have ID strips. Seeking directions, approach people with newspapers: there are odds they can read them. Never ever leave your books or papers open: they might be taken for other utilities. ;)


Now, the primer on irony. The basics are in the affirmative and the negative. You do not take them for a yes or no merely. Let me quote the Mash:


In no way are any of these people vain, arsey pedants.


A GN, do not take this for a refutation, as Wikipedia explains.


Naturally, life cannot be about statements only. Let me continue with the Mash.


The way they selflessly dedicate themselves to correct punctuation, for example by pointing out to the staff of a chip shop why the term ‘chip’s’ is a sloppy obfuscation, confirms they are bold and righteous individuals.


Apply antonymy, to grasp the gist. The rest becomes plain with the close synonymy nobody would use for a complimentary note.


Laying all that out in detail to a GN looks discouragingly big a task, hence the handful of thoughts and the primary color, yellow (adjective, reference 3).


Grammar Nazis evidently do not have the courage to admit that picking on people’s works has no chance to bring in anything creative, sophisticated. They do not offer own blogs or websites, especially with serious language work, for evaluation.