Study Guide

Apparently with no surprise Calling Card

By Emily Dickinson

Calling Card

Pet Themes

In this poem, Dickinson took a few of her pet themes and put them in a blender (which she thankfully never did with her pet mice). Nature, death, God—these topics pop up in tons of Emily's poems. Here she finds a way to blend them all together by having the natural images symbolize life and death, and then having God applaud it all. Sure, she's far from the only poet to tackle these topics, but this poem is so tight it's clear she's ahead of the game.

Diggin' the Dash

And of course we have Emily's trademarked use of dashes. In this poem we get them only smack dab in the middle:

The Frost beheads it at its play—
In accidental power—
The blonde Assassin passes on—
(3-5)

They come in right when the speaker is telling us all about this murderous frost, and break up the poem. They actually sort of give us the impression of knives thrusting into the center of the poem. The dashes are like frosty blades whirling towards the neck of the Flower.

V.I.C.s: Very Important Capitals

No Dickinson poem would be complete without words capitalized for emphasis. What can we say? The lady liked capitalizing things. In his piece, nature images like "Flower," "Frost," and "Sun" are all capitalized, cluing us in to the fact that they're meant of be symbols of bigger things (2, 3, 6).

The poem also ends with by talking about "Approving God" (8). By capitalizing "Approving" it's almost like Dickinson is making the word a part of God's official title. Is she mocking him in some way with this? Maybe, maybe not. But whatever the intention, this whole capitalizing thing is pure Dickinson.

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