Because of her uncontrollable fascination with mortality, Emily Dickinson has been dubbed the “Epic of Curiosity” by a number of academics. Dickinson became known as the “poet of shadow” as a result of this preoccupation. As the chivalrous lover, the outrageous hit guy, the bodily corruptor, or the free agent, she investigates death from any perspective. The poet was allegedly fascinated with the topic of death and life after death. It is heinous that she expressed death in all of her everyday tasks. While mortality has long been a cause of concern for many literary artists and thinkers, Dickinson articulated it in a particular manner. Consequently, she explored death as a captivating, fantastic, and puzzling occurrence rather than highlighting it in ancient mundane appearance. Furthermore, she expressed the theme of death to the degree that it occupied a quarter of her poetry.
Emily Dickinson’s poetry work comprises diverse descriptions of death that entail emotional feedback to the human bodies’ into infinity, insaneness, or nothingness. Emily’s poems have their roots from the elegant utilization of literary devices and techniques, which give symbolism to death thus enabling diverse perspectives of these journeys. Although, these ideas highlighted by Dickinson may appear conflicting at times, they all stress her notion that there are numerous forms of demise. Death is the main concern of Emily Dickinson’s poetry work. Therefore, the paper will shed light on the point of views of the theme of death in the poetry of Emily Dickson.
Dickinson’s homestead highlights the place where the poet spent a majority of her lifetime. It would be impossible to narrate that the famous American poet spent a staggering fifteen years on Pleasant Street. While around this street, she occasionally watched funeral parades passing her home and proceeding to the cemetery. Undeniably, she was reminded of death often and thus may have started to think about her own demise and what may arrive after it. (Choi 44) presume that this sense of doom eventually stirred her craving to write poems of the themes of death. Typically, Dickinson lived a certain type of life in an era where medical science was less explored and that people died from non-sophisticated signs and symptoms of the illness. Hence, she was severally confronted with the sequence of human survival, from birth to death and death again. Dickinson attempted to capture this tragedy of human life via her poetry.
(Evans 83) narrates that Emily Dickinson experienced numerous tragic deaths of her close colleagues, which typically subjected her to live an antisocial and melancholic life. Prior to writing poems, Emily lost some of her close friends, parents and schoolmates such as Samuel Bowles, Rev. Charles Wadsworth, Otis Lord, and Josiah Holland (Evans 99). Moreover, she lost her lovely nephew Gilbert that triggered an emotional suffering in her life. She revealed in a letter that the consistent deaths were too much to bear such as The Civil War. The letter claimed the lives of a number of great young persons and this backed up the Emily’s thoughts on the theme of death. Writing poetry based on the subject of death was therefore her strategy to tolerate the loss of her beloved persons and dilemma between the belief in eternal life and the physical interpretations for death and what occurs after it.
According to (Diehl 11),”I Felt a Funeral, in My Brain” highlights a differing interpretation of the theme of death by Emily Dickinson in her poetry work. Nonetheless, the poem implies an internal death at the expense of a physical one. The audience can interpret that in the poetry work, Dickinson is conversing about her own demise. Although this process is defined as an actual funeral, all the events are similar to what appears her emotional death (Diehl 8). Earlier, her mind grows to be a dazed one and she hears irrelevant sounds until a bell began to toll. Then, a feeling of loneliness and silence surrounds her. Lastly, she imagines as if she were in a boat that entails the breakdown of a plank and she falls down and smashes the universe. As expounded, this poem sheds light on Dickinson’s belief that a person can die on numerous occasions and that the actual death is not the solitary form of death, or the worst.
Mikos offers an overview of the theme of death in Dickinson poems. Nevertheless, the consistent allusion to repetitive sounds that torment the poet assist to stress the emotional suffering, anguish and the troubling hyperesthesia that she is exposed 56. Among these are the walking of the grievers with lead boots and the consistent beat of the drum and ringing of the bell. Furthermore, silence is alive and escorting her in her wrecks and sorrow: a symbol that emphasizes her emotional feeling of abandonment with the universe. Diehl argues that the image of a shipwreck is utilized to analyze argument to a beam of wood that breaks because of extreme pain 25. Nonetheless, the image occurs when the author falls continually from space and upon she falls, she smashes the planet. In addition, the psychic outbreak appears to be infinite, though the audience can interpret that she understood the description of death through her personal experience (Mikos 37.)
Emily Dickinson wrote a simulated nonfiction sketch of death, “Dust is the only secret; highlighting that death was the only one who existed in anonymity. Socarides evaluates that this poem is an example of majority of her verses that humanize death 88. She meticulously scrutinized the atmospheres of the perishing persons, the feedback of the observers, the dreadful fight of the body for life, alterations in a household after demise and the positioning of the body for the funeral (Socarides 107). Death typically viewed dingy and dreadful, astoundingly categorized as ‘kindly’, ‘slowly drove’, and ‘Knew no haste’ intensifies the sympathy of death. Imagery in the poetry work highlights a unique comprehension of life before and life after demise. Hence, they combine in unison the personification of death.
A conflicting vision of the theme of death occurs in Dickinson’s poem “Because I Could Not Stop for Death –.” Death is conveyed as a journey headed for eternity in this poem. In addition, this poem implies a vision of an eternal life where the person surpasses and proceeds to a space-time that appears non-existent. Obviously, this is the poet’s romantic perspective of death. The poet customizes death as a person who is patient, civil, and obedient and who offers rides to persons. Choi narrates that after death halts for a hectic poet who had no ample time to give a second thought on the subject on death, they begin a voyage together in the direction of eternity, passing via places that epitomize diverse phases of life. In addition, ambiguity plays a critical role in this poem (Choi 33). For instance, the emotional allusion to the school could be comprehended as if the author and Death were passing by the school to fetch a child who had previously perished and when the author advocates, “We passed the setting sun,” the setting sun could reveal that that the poet hopped for old age. Mikos argues that the cemetery was the final destination for this voyage, where the dead person is deserted 53. Lastly, the poet and death outdo and proceed to eternity; a situation in which time is unnoticeable and we can conclude that there is an atmosphere of harmony (Mikos 29)
Poetic devices and techniques are utilized to show imaginations in the audience’s mind and support this interpretation of death. Diehl asserts that portraying death is convincing and backs up the concept that it is a temporary one 9. By paralleling it to a house, it offers a comfort that does not form nausea to a place that otherwise can possess a negative suggestion. The picture of the coldness felt prior to leaving the corpse is an authoritative one and stresses the coldness of the human body after passing away. Lastly, the contingency of time and the explanation of a harmonious destination offer the reader with a feeling of anticipation to reach that venue. Choi says that the horses in the final stanza symbolize numerous things. For example, horses epitomize a simile of the soul 34. Moreover, horses symbolize travel, which conforms to the message of the poem. As illuminated, the choice of the phrases is very elaborate and the rhyme assists to stress words that contain a significant meaning in the poem.
“I Heard a Fly Buzz – When I Died” highlights a vision of death, which entails that there is no eternal life. It concentrates on the decay that happens after death of the author herself, a process that results to absolutely nothing.
I heard a Fly buzz – when I died
The Stillness in the Room-
Was like the Stillness in the Air-
Between the Heaves of Storm
Looking at the interpretation, the tone could be viewed as a mobilization of fear or serenity. Surrounding the dead body implies that there is complete quietness since people have stopped crying. Mikos assess that the earth appears to be expected since the author had made a declaration before ceasing to be: I willed my Keepsakes…” The fly that comes closer to the decayed body demonstrates the animals that will carry on the cycle of the human life while consuming from the body 46. Lastly, at the final phase of the poem, the windows of the soul, which could be explained as the eyes close and the soul dies. In addition, there seems to be a period between the prompt of the actual demise itself and the physical journey to emptiness. According to the initial verse of the poem, the poet had previously perished. Although, the windows remained closed until the final line of the poem, the immediate verse appears to be of ambiguity as the poet had lost mindfulness of her environment. Diehl addresses that although death can be deduced as a negative occasion; the poem puzzlingly designates death as a usual occurrence that results to the progress of life in other natures 88.
The literary devices and techniques assist to stress the theme of death. In addition, there is a consistent emphasis of the fly. Here, this choice of words results to the ambiguity of the description.The imagery insignificantly restores the meaning. The utilization of the term ‘blue’ can be understood as not only sorrowful but also fear and panic. Nevertheless, there are evidences of ambiguity in other lines of the poem. Diehl maintains that the audience can infer when the poet halts hearing noises and feeling the wind 13. Here, it is not because they have deigned but also they have been brainwashed in the perspectives. Lastly, the rhyme and rhythm stress phrases at the end of the lines that include ‘fly’ and view which are keywords in comprehending the meaning.
According to Choi, “On this wondrous sea” typifies a more appealing image of eternity than the one realized in the conscious sleeping a grave found in “Because I could not stop for Death.” Afterlife can be realized on a distant shore past the wondrous sea and storms, and its soundless venue of relaxation and stability, where the commentators are swift. In addition, there is a pilot who can provide insight and guidance on the wanderer of the seas to the last shore, “at last!” Evans says those two phrases confidently propose that afterlife is a place where a person might long to go and feel liberation and even delight at arriving there 77. This afterlife is alluring, and a form of heaven even if angels and God are not listed. Perhaps, “On this wondrous sea” illuminates the attitude towards death as seen in the poems assessed. Death is explored at the absence of the concepts outlined in the entire paper to attempt to evaluate its significance. Choi narrates that the earth and eternity are things known, a grave that is a house, a lively perception, a shore to which we come “at last” eternally stormy and “wondrous.”
In conclusion, Emily Dickinson is a completely perfect American poet that constructs her poems to expresses her deepest thoughts on the behalf of numerous themes. Her main fascination was with death, which she extremely focused with great vision in unearthing the unknown of death. She regularly fit herself in the shoes of the person who was dying in an effort to address what it may sound to actual life. Her perfectly crafted poems portraying the theme of death stresses the diverse elements of compounding pain and the power of the involvement along with a correspondingly sense of gain.
Arguably, most of her poetry work has been centered on the theme of death. Surprisingly, she sees death in different point of view than other poets. In her perspectives, death is not an occurrence for death rather it is beautiful, fanciful, and natural. As said by the author, the passing of life is unavoidable among human beings from the period we arrive on this planet of life we refer to as ‘earth.’ Examination of the theme of death offered a panoramic point of view that include but not limited to God and Immorality. The characteristics of death highlighted in this poetry work are very conflicting and complex. Dickinson applied these images so as to define death in an attempt to describe it. Additionally, she offers human and non-human characteristics a portion of her merciless journey to comprehend it. In her death poems, she provided her verdict of death since for her it remains the great-unearthed mystery.
Choi, Ju-Mi. “Subject Of Death And Immortality Theme In Emily Dickinson’s Poetry”. Journal of educational Research Institute vol11, no.2, (2009). Research Institute of Education Science, Jeju National University, doi 10.15564/jeri.2009.12.11.2.165
Diehl, Joanne Feit. “The Ample Word: Immanence And Authority In Dickinson’s Poetry”. The Emily Dickinson Journal vol14, no.2 (2005) Johns Hopkins University Press, doi 10.1353/edj.2006.0004
Evans, Meagan. ““Itself Is All The Like”: Selfsameness In The Poetry Of Emily Dickinson”. The Emily Dickinson Journal vol.20, no.2 (2011). Johns Hopkins University Press, doi 10.1353/edj.2011.0017
Mikos, Keith. ““Things Overlooked Before”: Details In Dickinson’S Poems Of Scale”. The Emily Dickinson Journal vol25, no.1 (2016) Johns Hopkins University Press, doi 10.1353/edj.2016.0003
Socarides, Alexandra. “The Gorgeous Nothings: Emily Dickinson’S Envelope Poems By Bervin, Jen”. The Emily Dickinson Journal vol23, no.2 (2014) Johns Hopkins University Press, doi 10.1353/edj.2014.0015