Dissertations and Theses

Date of Award


Document Type




First Advisor

Joshua Wilner

Second Advisor

Harold Aram Veeser


Sohrab Sepehri, Emily Dickinson, Persian, English, Literature, Dialectics, Hegel, Marx


Poetry, like thought, belongs to all people and is representative of existence itself. In one sense, poetry is the musical formation of words, whose effects must be experienced in sound, tone and melody, but in another sense, poetry is also an artistic discourse where the “fundamental character is that of an incidentally moving and imaginative form of communication” (Edman 46). Emily Dickinson and Sohrab Sepehri are two poets who sought to identify and define the Self in their modernist poetic discourse, and they each appropriated language as a means and a stepping-stone towards a methodological and unrestricted method of inquiry into the nature of existence. The purpose of this essay is to emphasize the universality of artistic behavior by conducting a comparative study of two poets, the 19th-century American poet, Emily Dickinson, and the 20th-century Iranian poet, Sohrab Sepehri. What at first may seem as their many differences, a 19th-century American poetess and a 20th-century Iranian poet, is also what unifies them as they are both representatives of marginalized voices in world literature—neither embraced the popular themes of nationalism or patriotism, or the fashionable philosophical discourse of their time, and the subject of their poetics is often universal rather than the communication of time and place specific ideas.

Whereas Dickinson and Sepheri each use a different language for their poetic discourse, the themes, subjects and methods of inquiry used in their poetry indicate a common thought process. Their poems, complex in drawing from different sources of knowledge available to each, profound and at times intimidating for readers, once carefully delved into demonstrate the author’s deep engagement to a deliberate and unique artistic and philosophical method of experimentation in synthesizing the objective reality. Shaped by the social atmosphere to which each belonged, Sepehri and Dickinson’s art is representative of a “speculative mode of cognition” described by Hegel as dialectical.



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