The Nature of Death in Emily Dickinson's Poems

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Emily Dickinson once said, “Dying is a wild night and a new road.” Some people welcome death with open arms while others cower in fear when confronted in the arms of death. Through the use of ambiguity, metaphors, personification and paradoxes Emily Dickinson still gives readers a sense of vagueness on how she feels about dying. Emily Dickinson inventively expresses the nature of death in the poems, “I felt a Funeral, in my Brain (280)”, “I Heard a fly Buzz—When I Died—(465)“ and “Because I could not stop for Death—(712)”.

Emily Dickinson, who achieved more fame after her death, is said to be one of the greatest American poets of all time. Dickinson communicated through letters and notes and according to Amy Paulson Herstek, author of “Emily Dickinson: Solitary and Celebrated Poet,” “Writing was the way she kept in touch with the world” (15). Dickinson’s style is unique and although unconventional, it led to extraordinary works of literature. Dickinson lived her life in solitude, but in her solitude she was free to read, write and think which led to her nonconformity and strong sense of individualism. Suzanne Juhasz, a biographer of Dickinson, sums up most critics’ idea of Dickinson ideally: “Emily Dickinson is at once the most intimate of poets, and the most guarded. The most self-sufficient, and the neediest. The proudest, and the most vulnerable. These contradictions, which we as her readers encounter repeatedly in her poems, are understandable, not paradoxical, for they result from the tension between the life to which she was born and the one to which she aspired” (1). Dickinson poured her heart and soul into over 1,700

poems, 600 of which relate to death. Paul J. Ferlazzo, a contributing author of “Emily Dickinson” write...

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Morningstar, Carolyn. “’Uncertain stumbling buzz’: Carolyn Morningstar explores creative

uncertainty in Emily Dickinson’s poetry.” The English Review Feb. 2007: 21+. Literature

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Semansky, Chris. “An overview of Because I Could Not Stop for Death”.” Poetry for Students. Detroit: Gale. Literature Resources from Gale. Web. 9 Apr. 2011.

Zarlengo, Kristina. “Critical Essay on ‘I Heard a Fly Buzz—When I Died—‘.” Poetry for Students. Mary K. Ruby. Vol. 5. Detroit: Gale Group, 1999. Literature Resources from Gale. Web. 10 Apr. 2011.

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