in the Poetry of Emily Dickinson
There is a reoccurring theme of death in the poems of Emily Dickinson. This can be seen in poems such as “Because I Could Not Stop For Death”, “I Heard A Fly Buzz When I Died”, “My Life Has Stood A Loaded Gun,” “My Life Closed Twice Before It Closed,” “Heaven is What I Cannot Reach,” and “Death Sets A Thing Significant.” While some of Dickinson’s poems talk about death in an inviting and unafraid way others present the subject in tones of grief and sadness. Most of her poems that deal with death, depends on the continued life of the mind or at least up to the final moment. Dickinson also personifies death making it seem all the more real.
To understand the poet’s fascination with the subject of death, one needs to know about her life. Emily Dickinson was born in 1830 in Amherst, Massachusetts. Throughout her life with few exceptions, she didn’t leave her home or have many visitors. The people that did come into her life had a very big impact on Emily. When one of her good friends, a second cousin passed away in April, 1844, Emily was struck with grief. Shortly after Emily met Leonard Humphrey, she grew very close to him and had him as a mentor. Four years later, Humphrey died unexpectedly at 25 years of age. By 1867, Dickinson began to withdraw herself from her barley existing social life, did not talk to people face to face and became very isolated. This was her most productive period in writing. (Shmoop 3) Between 1874 and 1886 Emily faced five more deaths, including her own: Those of her father, then her mother, her nephew, and her “boyfriend.” Finally in 1886 Emily herself died of Bright’s disease. It was not until after her death that her book of poetry was finall...
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...ut of over one thousand seven hundred poems she wrote, five hundred – six hundred are about death. “Death was her most powerful and best written work” (Nesteruk, 27) All the editors in The Emily Dickinson Journal 6.1 suggest death is a subject and mystery to be explored (37). This was said after the editors had taken a look at many of her poems.
There is a reoccurring theme of death in the poems of Emily Dickinson. Many have interpreted them and found different solutions to why she wrote about death. While no one really knows why she wrote and was so fascinated by the theme of death, most connect her passion towards this topic to the many deaths she faced in her life. It makes it interesting as a reader to read so many different poems of death that don’t all have the same outcome and don’t all have the same mood, but instead all talk about death in different forms.
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