Quest for Eternity in the Poetry of Dickinson Essay

Quest for Eternity in the Poetry of Dickinson Essay

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Quest for Eternity in the Poetry of Dickinson

 
    Over the past few decades, a considerable number of comments have been made on the idea of eternity in Emily Dickinson's poetry. The following are several examples: Robert Weisbuch's Emily Dickinson's Poetry (1975), Jane Donahue Eberwein's Dickinson: Strategies of Limitation (1985), Dorothy Huff Oberhaus' Emily Dickinson's Fascicles: Method and Meaning (1995), and James McIntosh's Nimble Believing: Dickinson and the Unknown (2000). However, opinions vary as to how Dickinson explored the question regarding eternity; much ink has still been spent on the issue. This paper, therefore, provides another discussion of the idea of eternity depicted in Dickinson's poetry. I will discuss the issue by considering how her poems describe the process through which the poet finally reaches the belief in eternity-overcoming the feud between Christianity and scientific knowledge and that between Romanticism and existentialism.

 

As a beginning, let us look closely at one of the poems in which Dickinson gives a detailed account of a deathbed scene: The last Night that She lived

It was a Common Night

Except the Dying-this to Us

Made Nature different

We noticed smallest things-

Things overlooked before

By this great light upon our Minds

Italicized-as 'twere.

As We went out and in

Between Her final Room

And Rooms where Those to be alive

Tomorrow were, a Blame

That Others could exist

While She must finish quite

A Jealousy for Her arose

So nearly infinite-- (P-1100)

 

It is presumed that Dickinson wrote this piece of verse in circa 1886. In May of that year, Laura Dickey, the wife of Frank W. of Michigan, ...


... middle of paper ...


...Dickinson. 2 vols. 1974. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1994.

Stocks, Kenneth. Emily Dickinson and the Modern Consciousness. Hong Kong: Macmillan, 1988.

Wolff, Cynthia Griffin. Emily Dickinson. 1986. Reading: Addison, 1988.

Works Consulted

Kjaer, Niels Pastor. "The Poet of Moment: Emily Dickinson and Soren Kierkegaard." Dickinson Studies 59 (1986): 46-9.

McIntosh, James. Nimble Believing: Dickinson and the Unknown. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2000.

Oberhaus, Dorothy Huff. Emily Dickinson's Fascicles: Method and Meaning. University Park: Pennsylvania State UP, 1995.

Rosenbaum, S. P., ed. A Concordance to the Poems of Emily Dickinson. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1964.

Scholnick, Robert J., ed. American Literature and Science. Lexington: UP of Kentucky, 1992.

Weisbuch, Robert. Emily Dickinson's Poetry. Chicago: Chicago UP, 1975.

 

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