Emily Dickinson’s world was her father’s home and garden in a small New Englandtown. She lived most of her life within this private world. Her romantic visionsand emotional intensity kept her from making all but a few friends. Because ofthis life of solitude, she was able to focus on her world more sharply thanother authors of her time were. Her poems, carefully tied in packets, werediscovered only after she had died.
They reveal an unusual awareness of herselfand her world, a shy but determined mind. Every poem was like a tiny micro-chasmthat testified to Dickinson’s life as a recluse. Dickinson’s lack of rhyme andregular meter and her use of ellipsis and compression were unimportant as longas her poetry was encouraged by it. Although some find her poetry to beincomprehensible, illiterate, and uneducated, most find that her irregularpoetic form are her original attempts at liberating American poetry from a staleheritage. Her poetry was the precursor to the modern spirit with the influenceof transcendentalism not puritanism.
Her treatment of Death and profoundmetaphysical tendencies were part of the singular nature of her genius. Emily’ssimple language draws rich meanings from common words. The imagery and metaphorsin her poetry are taken from her observations of nature and her imagination. Sheapproached her poetry inductively, combining words to arrive at a conclusion thepattern of words suggested, rather than starting with a specific theme ormessage. Her use of certain words resulted in one not being able to grasp herpoetry with only one reading. She paid minute attention to things that nobodyelse noticed in the universe.
” She was obsessed with death and itsconsequences especially the idea of eternity. She once said, “Does notEternity appear dreadful to you I often get thinking of it and it seems sodark to me that I almost wish there was no Eternity. To think that we mustforever live and never cease to be. It seems as if death which all so dreadbecause it launches us upon an unknown world would be a relief to so endless astate of existence.
” Dickinson heavily believed that it was important toretain the power of consciousness after life. The question of mental cessationat death was an overtone of many of her poems. The imminent contingency ofdeath, as the ultimate source of awe, wonder, and endless questions, was life’smost fascinating feature to Dickinson. Dickinson challenges the mysteries ofdeath with evasion, despair, curiosity or hope in her poetry as means to clarifyher curiosity. From examining her poems of natural transitions of life anddeath, changing states of consciousness, as a speaker from beyond the grave,confronting death in a journey or dream and on the dividing line of life anddeath one can see that Dickinson points to death as the final inevitable change.The intensity of Dickinson’s curiosity about dying and her enthusiasm to learnof the dying persons’ experience at the point of mortality is evident in herpoetry. She studies the effect of the deads’ disappearance, on the living world,in a hope to conjecture something about the new life they are experiencing afterdeath.
Dickinson believes that a dying person’s consciousness does not die withthe body at death but rather it lives on and intensifies. In To know just how Hesuffered-would be dear To know just how He suffered — would be dear — To knowif any Human eyes were near To whom He could entrust His wavering gaze — Untilit settle broad — on Paradise — To know if He was patient — part content –Was Dying as He thought — or different — Was it a pleasant Day to die — Anddid the Sunshine face his way — What was His furthest mind — Of Home — or God– Or what the Distant say — At news that He ceased Human Nature Such a Day –And Wishes — Had He Any — Just His Sigh — Accented — Had been legible — toMe — And was He Confident until Ill fluttered out — in Everlasting Well — Andif He spoke — What name was Best — What last What One broke off with At theDrowsiest — Was He afraid — or tranquil — Might He know How ConsciousConsiousness — could grow — Till Love that was — and Love too best to be –Meet — and the Junction be Eternity expresses her belief about the experienceof dying and her wonderment of what happens during death. Dickinson suggeststhat the dying person’s final gaze will be on paradise as if at the point ofdeath it sees what is to come. Dickinson herself wants, “to know just howhe suffered To know if any Human eyes were near To know if He waspatient” many questions like these are raised as to the experiences ofthe dying. She probes at the implications of leaving the living, searching forthe strength of deaths appeal, and wondering abou the junction of love thatexisted during life and love that is to be, after life. Questions are raisedabout the person’s attachments to the world already known rather than insightsinto another world after death. The impossibility of Dickinson to fullypenetrate the mysteries of the afterlife does not allow for insight into thisother world.
Since she could not follow the dead beyond her world Dickinsonfocused on their effect on the world they left behind. She searched for answersfrom the dead as they lay in their resting-places in Safe in their AlabasterChambers. Safe in their Alabaster Chambers — Untouched my Morning And untouchedby Noon — Sleep the meek members of the Resurrection — Rafter of satin, AndRoof of stone. Light laughs the breeze In her Castle above them — Babbles theBee in a stolid Ear, Pipe the Sweet Birds in ignorant cadence — Ah, whatsagacity perished here! The Alabaster chamber, “untouched by morning anduntouched by noon, ” represents the tomb of the dead and their separationfrom the world.
Dickinson concludes that she finds no answers from the deadbecause she is unable to understand their world. However, she knows that theyare only sleeping and will come back when they are resurrected. Spoken frombeyond the grave, Because I could not stop for Death Because I could not stopfor Death– He kindly stopped for me– The Carriage held but just Ourselves–and Immortality. We slowly drove–He knew no haste And I had put away My laborand my leisure too, For His Civility– We passed the School, where Childrenstrove At Recess–in the Ring– We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain– We passedthe Setting Sun– Or rather–He passed Us– The Dews drew quivering and chill–For only Gossamer, my Gown– My Tippet only Tulle We paused before a House thatseemed A Swelling of the Ground– The Roof was scarcely visible– TheCornice–in the Ground– Since then–‘Tis Centuries–and yet Feels shorter thanthe Day I first surmised the Horses Heads Were toward Eternity– has animaginary person, not Dickinson who would be looking beyond into death, butcontent with the routine of the life, looking back from death into the livingworld which she has disappeared from. She had been too busy to stop her workwhile she was living so death, “kindly stopped, ” for her. As shepasses the children, the Gazing Grain and finally the setting sun, we see thestages of life, childhood, maturity, and old age, respectively. Not only Deathhas come for the woman, “The Carriage held but just Ourselves andImmortality.
” Again Emily focuses on the previous world and on mortalityand can not see into death and immortality. Dickinson represents death’sfinality by stressing the continued presence of objects no longer valuable ormeaningless, and on the ceasing of activities that had characterized life.Immobility in death is the best evidence of death’s withdrawal from life becauseof the respect given to one’s actions during life. The cessation of common androutine activities in life are represented as idle hands of the dead in Deathsets a Thing significant Death sets a Thing significant The Eye had hurried byExcept a perished Creature Entreat us tenderly To ponder little Workmanships InCrayon, or in Wool, With “This was last Her fingers did” –Industrious until — The Thimble weighed too heavy — The stitches stopped — bythemselves — And then ’twas put among the Dust Upon the Closet shelves — ABook I have — a friend gave — Whose Pencil — here and there — Had notchedthe place that pleased Him — At Rest — His fingers are — Now — when I read– I read not — For interrupting Tears — Obliterate the Etchings Too Costlyfor Repairs. when Dickinson writes, “At Rest – His fingers are.
“Although these activities are unimportant after death they are of value andevidence of involvement in the living world. Mentioning the, “littleWorkmanships,” and other insignificant aspects of life, is Dickinson’s wayof representing the pettiness and simplicity of life in contrast to her view ofdeath as a revelation of the conscious, bringing it to a higher level ofunderstanding. She tries to show how after death things become significant thatweren’t while you were living, for her this is part of the grieving process. Thefocus on a mundane creature like a fly in I heard a fly buzz when I died I hearda fly buzz when I died; The stillness round my form Was like the stillness inthe air Between the heaves of storm.
The eyes beside had wrung them dry, Andbreaths were gathering sure For that last onset, when the king Be witnessed inhis power. I willed my keepsakes, signed away What portion of me Could makeassignable, – and then There interposed a fly, With blue, uncertain, stumblingbuzz, Between the light and me; And then the windows failed, and then I couldnot see to see. reminds the reader of the household discomforts and pettyirritabilities in life that are irrelevant in death. A fascination withimmortality is dominant in many of her poems about death. Her imagination thrusther beyond the living into the mysteries of death and immortality. She wanted tolearn what lay beyond mortality before she experienced it.
Through her poems,she was never able to appease her curiosity or answer her endless questions butonly to speculate about them. In The spirit lasts – but in what mode The Spiritlasts but in what mode Below, the Body speaks, But as the Spirit furnishesApart, it never talks The Music in the Violin Does not emerge alone But Arm inArm with Touch, yet Touch Alone is not a Tune The Spirit lurks within the SeaThat makes the Water live, estranged What would the Either be? Does that knownow or does it cease That which to this is done, Resuming at a mutual date Withevery future one? Instinct pursues the Adamant, Exacting the Reply Adversity ifit may be, or Wild Prosperity The Rumor’s Gate was shut so tight Before my Mindwas sown, Not even a Prognostic’s Push Could make a Dent thereon she analyzesthe nature of man’s changed life after death. Dickinson looks at the question,could the soul exist without the body. She concludes that the body and the soulinteract to form an identity, and matter is essential to spiritual expression.
Beauty, truth and grace are too abstract for the imagination to comprehend forthe speaker in the poem so she must direct her questions outside the living onlyto find “Adamant.” The poem This world is not conclusion This World isnot Conclusion. A Species stands beyond – Invisible, as Music – But positive, asSound – It beckons, and it baffles – Philosophy – don’t know – And through aRiddle, at the last – Sagacity, must go – To guess it, puzzles scholars – Togain it, Men have borne Contempt of Generations And Crucifixion, shown – Faithslips – and laughs, and rallies – Blushes, if any see- Plucks at a twig ofEvidence – And asks a Vane, the way – Much Gesture, from the Pulpit – StrongHallelujahs roll – Narcotics cannot still the Tooth That nibbles at the soul -addresses the question of, is immortality possible? Dickinson starts off assureof her belief in immortality but as the poem develops that assurance breaks downand is questioned.Poetry