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Analizing Emily Dickinson's Poetry

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Emily Dickinson’s poetry goes where most poets refuse to go: the fear beyond death. Being surrounded by death, due to the Civil War it comes to no surprise that Dickinson would express such a morbid topic. However, it is the way that she expresses death that is significant. Her writings tend to go against her Puritan heritage by not suggesting an afterlife. In Dickinson’s poems, “I felt a Funeral, in my Brain”, “I heard a Fly buzz—when I died” and “Because I could not stop for Death” oblivion is the object to fear, not death.

No one can argue against the fact that Dickinson’s “dashes appear to be quite deliberate” (Fagan 1). The emphasis or meaning behind the dashes is still to be determined; however, in “Because I could not stop for Death”, “I heard a buzz—when I died” and “I felt a Funeral, in my Brain” the poem ends in a dash to “suggest that the poem has no end at all” (Fagan 3). In ending the following poems in an elusive dash, “the meaning [of the poem] lies in the absence; the meaning is what neither we, nor she, can know, but that the dash invites us to seek” (Fagan 5). It is the dash at the end of the poems that leave the resolve unknown.

Another impact of Dickinson’s extensive use of dashed lines “stage endless verbal deaths as ideas and statements come quickly and then expire, each like a last gasp of breath, leaving tenuous connections between lines at times. Dashes inside the line halt other progressions, such as the separation of subjects from verbs evocative of the body departing from the activity of life” (Barnsley 1). The unknown of the sequence of events causes terror. In Dickinson’s poetry, “it is this oblivion where terror resides, not the process of dying itself” (Barnsley 2). Dickinson’s belief that “de...

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...ily Dickinson, New Edition, Bloom's Modern Critical Views. New York: Chelsea House Publishing, 2008. Bloom's Literature. Facts On File, Inc. Web. 30 Apr. 2014

Huff, Randall. "'I felt a Funeral, in my Brain,'." The Facts On File Companion to American Poetry, vol. 1. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2007. Bloom's Literature. Facts On File, Inc. Web. 30 Apr. 2014

Leiter, Sharon. "'I felt a Funeral, in my Brain,'." Critical Companion to Emily Dickinson: A Literary Reference to Her Life and Work, Critical Companion. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2006. Bloom's Literature. Facts On File, Inc. Web. 30 Apr. 2014

Leiter, Sharon. "'I heard a Fly buzz—when I died—'." Critical Companion to Emily Dickinson: A Literary Reference to Her Life and Work, Critical Companion. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2006. Bloom's Literature. Facts On File, Inc. Web. 30 Apr. 2014
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