Vol. 54 No. 1 (2006)
Research Article

Emily Dickinson's Placenames

Published 2006-03-01



Emily Dickinson used at least 162 placenames, or toponyms, in her poetic vocabulary. Approximately 195 of Dickinson's 1,789 poems employ at least one placename, more than one tenth of the poetic corpus. Of the 162 placenames in Dickinson's poems, 70 refer to places in Europe, 17 to the Middle East, 12 each refer to Africa and North America, 11 each to Central America and Eurasia, 10 each to Asia and South America, and 1 reference each to Austronesia and the North Pole. In addition, Dickinson makes 7 references to sacred space and outer space. Dickinson refers to 29 different kinds of topographic entities: choronyms such as continents, oikonyms such as cities, oronyms such as mountains, hydronyms such as rivers, astronyms such as planets, and miscellaneous features such as languages, gardens, battle sites, or churches. The best resources for studying Dickinson's toponyms are Noah Webster's American Dictionary of the English Language (1828-1844) and the Oxford English Dictionary. To consolidate and augment the information in these and other resources, we have defined all of the toponyms in Dickinson's poetic lexicon for the forthcoming Emily Dickinson Lexicon.


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