Emily Dickinson and Edgar Allan Poe

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Emily Dickinson and Edgar Allan Poe are two of America’s most celebrated authors. Whose lives had a huge impact on their writing style? Poe’s parents died while he was still a child, and as an adult, he suffered from depression, alcoholism, and isolation, both of which became core themes in his poetry (Burns 9). Dickinson did her job at home as well, and she was alone and hardly had visitors. As a result, her themes in his poetry were often focused on solitude, sentimentalism, and a domestic lifestyle. As a result, their works’ style and thematic guide is informed by their personal experiences. Poe’s and Dickson’s works portrayed loneness and the theme of death. For example, Edgar poem in his poem Alone writes “From childhood’s hour I have not been/As others were/ I could not bring……My sorrow—I could not awaken” (Swarnakar 6). Also, Dickson in “The Loneliness One dare not sound” writes about loneliness. Their works also had the theme of death. In “Spirits of the Dead,” Poe he explains the mysteries of death. Similarly, Dickson in “Because I could not stop for Death” writers “I first surmised the Horses’ Heads/Were toward Eternity” (Swarnakar 7). Therefore, the similarities in the works of the two enigmatic writers reflect death and loneness.

The poetic works of the two writers were contrasting in some aspects. Poe’s iconic status owes him a great deal to the existence of a renowned writer. On the other hand, Dickinson is termed to be a fiercely and modest introspective writer. In Dickinson’s work, there is a form of gentle touch, and her works reflected traditional lifestyle (Thomas 18). For example, in “A Book,” Dickson seems to be simply setting down an interesting novel in a gentle touch. Again, she ventures into a simply clinic terrain in “Crisis is a Hair,” and muses on an intrinsically minute nature of the title. Moreover, her wide array of brief but fragmented poems also creates an impression of an objective witness to life (Burns 15). The form in which she writes his works evidence that she never paid attention to the structure and meter and thus her free-form of writing style inherently instills her poems with a thoughtful facet in the literal sense (Pollak 12). Dickson thus employed random, free-form style which was not evident in Poe’s works.

Poe’s poems depict unabashed expressions of one man’s torments and conflicts. He takes great note of the role meter and rhyme and communicates that every man is alone. For example in the poem “Alone,” he blatantly gives an autobiographical that harshly bemoans his state as a man who is doomed not to lead a normal life. His poems dwelled on revealing his personal experiences for example “Annabel Lee” which is a mourning poem. In “Sonnet to Science,” which employs archaic poetic language addressing the title, the reader notices that Poe does not remove himself from it and he accuses science of having been stripped his world into a mystery (Harrison 10). He says that it has taken from him “summer dream.” Indeed, Poe’s works expressed his personal joy and sorrow. Also, unlike Dickson, his works are characterized by a sense of meter and his poems denote to be distinctly musical. He embraces the use of internal rhyme as the one evident in “Annabel Lee” and also an intense musicality rhyme propels “The Raven” (Harrison 7) This is contrary to Dickson who even discards standard of punctuations and prefers the ambiguity of dashes to finish phrases.


The poetic spirit of the two writers was grounded on the aspect of their experiences especially loneliness which was reflected in their similar lifestyle. However, Poe employed meter and rhyme in his poems whereas Dickson wrote her works using freestyle and did not pay attention to meter. Nonetheless, the two exhibited magnificent and enigmatic writing styles with the theme of death and loneliness as well as lack of love grounding their works and thus resulting in emotional poems.

Works Cited

Burns, Allan. Thematic Guide to American Poetry. Westport, Conn., Greenwood Press, 2002.

Thomas H Johnson. The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson. London, Little, Brown, 1998.

Harrison James Albert. The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe. New York, AMS Press, 1979.

Pollak, Vivian R. A Historical Guide to Emily Dickinson. New York, Oxford University Press, 2004.

Swarnakar, Sudha. “Representation of Death in Edgar Allan Poe and Emily Dickinson.” A Cor Das Letras, vol 8, no. 1, 2017, p. 29. Universidade Estadual De Feira De Santana, doi:10.13102/cl.v8i1.1563.

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