Essay on Emily Dickinson’s Poem 67, Poem 1036, and Poem 870

Essay on Emily Dickinson’s Poem 67, Poem 1036, and Poem 870

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Absence and Loss in Emily Dickinson’s Poem 67, Poem 1036, and Poem 870


Emily Dickinson often refers to loss and absence in her poetry. It is not often seen as strictly negative though. It is, however, seen as inevitable. It is not always inevitable in the negative sense though. It is sometimes seen as necessary in order to understand life. There seems to be an overall theme of loss being a part of life. This theme can be seen upon examining poems 67, 1036, and 870.

Poem 67 is a good example of Dickinson portraying absence as positive. The lines “Success is counted sweetest / By those who ne’er succeed” show that success is most wanted by those who have not succeeded. The absence of success creates a desire for it. The lines "To comprehend a nectar / Requires sorest need" mean that in order to understand something you must have need of it. Without absence or loss, there is no success to be had. It is a similar comparison to light and dark. Without one, it is difficult to understand the other. With absence comes the opportunity for gain. With loss comes the need for success. It is need, or absence, that inspires the drive for success. The lines " As he defeated-dying- / One whose forbidden ear / The distant strains of triumph / Burst agonized and clear!" support needing absence and loss to understand success and gain. In the moments of agony and defeat, the sounds of triumph can finally be heard. A success can only be understood if one knows what absence and loss are. If want is necessary to life, then there must always be want. This can be seen in the next poem.

Poem 1036 demonstrates that there will always be want. The first stanza says that when one is satisfied they are full and have no desire, bu...


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...e person is lost. This is a much more dismal view of loss and absence then in poems 67 and 1036. It does, however, demonstrate that loss is just a part of life. It is inevitable, but that does not mean it is necessary to fear it.

Together, poems 67, 1036, and 870 make a rather strong statement on Dickinson's view of loss and absence. Poem 67 says that absence and loss are necessary to understand their opposite. Poem 1036 says that want will always exist. Lastly, poem 870 says that life consists mainly of loss. Together they portray absence and loss as necessary parts of life. Not only are they necessary, but to a lesser extent they have the power to inspire people towards and understand success.

Works Cited

Haskas, Vasilis. “The Myth of Tradition.” 10 April 1996. 11 November 2001. <http://www.greece.org/poseidon/work/argonautika/jason3_1.html>.

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