Study Guide

From Blank to Blank Calling Card

By Emily Dickinson

Calling Card

One glance at this, and you know it's an Emily Dickinson poem. Just like always, we've got her use of creative capitalization. Here, she uses it to emphasize certain words and images: "From Blank to Blank—" (1).

The Blanks just seem Bigger, Badder, and… um, Blankier with a capital B, don't they? If you don't believe us, take a look at the line without the b's capitalized: "From blank to blank." It's just not as impressive, is it? By capitalizing the B's, Dickinson makes these awful Blanks seem larger and more engulfing.

Dickinson also wields her trademark dashes like a regular dash ninja in this poem. Like in this line where she uses them to slow down and disrupt the rhythm, giving us the feeling of someone stumbling through nothingness: "To stop—or perish—or advance—"
 (4).

The places she doesn't use dashes are well-chosen, too. Take these lines, for example: "If end I gained/ It ends beyond"
 (6-7). They're about how there are no endings and everything is bleeding together, so it makes total sense for one line to roll over into the next without a dash to separate them.

Besides the whole capitals and dashes thing, this poem also reminds of just how skilled Dickinson is at communicating dense layers of meaning through creative poetic constructs. Whoa, that sounded high-falutin'. In other words, what we're saying is this lady is great at coming up with awesome images that we can pull a lot of meaning from. The image of somebody desperately stumbling through a void is pretty powerful, and it makes us really feel the emotional desolation of the speaker without telling us how depressed she is directly. This is the kind of thing Dickinson always does—and does well. Check out "The Brain—is Wider than the Sky—" or "My Life had stood—a Loaded Gun—" for just two examples.

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