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By Thomas Foster (auth.)

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P 1573) These final, elegiac lines demonstrate a self-consciousness about the position shared by Dickinson and her mother within the home as constructed by both patriarchal and capitalist social relations. 22 The daughter/speaker fathoms how her own life has been fashioned into a dreamlike repetition of her mother’s. The mother’s literal absence in death, the difference between ‘what she is’ and ‘what she was’, only reinforces the speaker’s sense of their figurative identification on the basis of their domestic roles, which dissolves the boundaries separating them.

12). ’s reflections upon both the formation of gendered subjectivity and the status of the domestic sphere in The Gift, these poems dramatize the problem of defining a subject position for women that would be located somewhere between traditionally feminine enclosures and the masculine freedom of a public identity founded on the rejection of domestic and maternal spaces. This chapter will end with a discussion of the poem ‘Pursuit’, from Sea Garden, which I will read as allegorizing subjectivity in language and the use of spatial metaphors to represent the position of the linguistic or textual subject.

The temporal experience of ‘days’ becomes inseparable from a spatial experience of ‘straying’. Placing Emily Dickinson 37 Dickinson had already affirmed a similar sense of homelessness and transience in the early 1860s, as attested by ‘Forever – is composed of Nows’ (P 624). This poem refers to a ‘different time’ characterized by a ‘Latitude of Home’ in which ‘Months dissolve in further Months’. A later poem (c. 1865) elaborates the phrase ‘Latitude of Home’: Up Life’s Hill with my little Bundle If I prove it steep – If a Discouragement withhold me – If my newest step Older feel than the Hope that prompted Spotless be from blame Heart that proposed as Heart that accepted Homelessness, for Home – (P 1010) The final line revises the traditional marriage plot, in that the speaker gains maturity by leaving her parents’ home for ‘Homelessness’ rather than a household of her own.

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