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Dickinson felt that although "Volcanoes be in Sicily...I may contemplate / Vesuvius at Home." For as a mistress of the mysteries of transformation, Dickinson was not just an extravagant miracle-worker, an Empress of Calvary; she was a magician of the ordinary, and hers was a Myth of Amherst, a Myth, that is, of the daily and the domestic, a Myth of what could be seen "New Englandly." In this commitment to dailiness, moreover, even more than in her conversions of an unidentified figure into a muse and agony into energy, she defines and enacts distinctive mysteries of womanhood that have great importance not only for her own art but also for the female poetic tradition of which she is a grandmother.


From "'The Wayward Nun Beneath the Hill': Emily Dickinson and the Mysteries of Womanhood" in Feminist Critics Read Emily Dickison. Ed. Suzanne Juhasz. Copyright © 1983 by Indiana University Press.