Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson was born on December 10, 1830 in Amherst Massachusetts. She had
a younger sister named Lavina and an older brother named Austin. Her mother
Emily Norcross Dickinson, was largely dependent on her family and was seen by
Emily as a bad mother. Her father was lawyer, Congressman, and the Treasurer for
Amherst College. Emilys mother and father didnt get along very well, but
unlike her mother Emily loved and admired her father. Emilys family lived a
quiet secure life. They rarely shared their problems with one another so Emily
had plenty of privacy for writing. During her childhood, Emily and her family
attended The First Congregational Church on every Sunday. Emily did not like
going to church because she didn’t think of herself as being very religious. She
refused to believe that Heaven was a better place than Earth and eventually
rebelled from the church. Emily saw herself as a woman who had her own way of
thinking, a way of thinking shaped neither by the church or society. By the time
she was twelve, her family moved to a house on Pleasant Street where they lived
from 1840 to 1855. Emily was already writing letters, but composed most of her
poetry in this home. Emily only left home to attend Mount Holyoke Female
Seminary for two semesters. She impressed her teachers with her “courage and
directness” in her poetry. They felt her writing was very good. At the age of
twenty-one, Emily and her family moved to the “Dickinson Homestead” on Main
Street. This move was very difficult for Emily. This was difficult for Emily
because she became very attached to her old house. They now lived next door to
her brother Austin and his wife Susan and their daughter Martha. Emily and Susan
became so close that many people believe they may have been lovers. Emily was
known to have written many love letters and poems to Susan. Martha attempted to
protect both of their images and tell everyone the rumors werent true. It
became common knowledge that Emily had some type of very strong feelings for
Susan. The following is one of the letters that Emily wrote to Susan: “It’s a
sorrowful morning Susie–the wind blows and it rains; “into each life some
rain must fall,” and I hardly know which falls fastest, the rain without,
or within–Oh Susie, I would nestle close to your warm heart, and never hear the
wind blow, or the storm beat, again. Is there any room there for me, darling,
and will you “love me more if ever you come home”?–it is enough, dear
Susie, I know I shall be satisfied. But what can I do towards you? dearer you
cannot be, for I love you so already, that it almost breaks my heart–perhaps I
can love you anew, every day of my life, every morning and evening–Oh if you
will let me, how happy I shall be! The precious billet, Susie, I am wearing the
paper out, reading it over and o’er, but the dear thoughts cant wear out if they
try, Thanks to Our Father, Susie! Vinnie and I talked of you all last evening
long, and went to sleep mourning for you, and pretty soon I waked up saying
“Precious treasure, thou art mine,” and there you were all right, my
Susie, and I hardly dared to sleep lest someone steal you away. Never mind the
letter, Susie; you have so much to do; just write me every week one line, and
let it be, “Emily, I love you,” and I will be satisfied! Your own,
Emily” http://www.sappho.com/poetry/historical/e_*censored*in.html At the age
of thirty-one Emily sent some of her poems to a publisher, Thomas Higginson, who
liked her poetry a lot. A strong friendship developed. He gave her a lot of
advice, but she never seemed to use any of it. It became evident that she didn’t
like the idea of having her works published, she made 40 packets of about twenty
poems apiece from 814 poems. She placed these in a box along with close to 300
other poems. Emily died on May 5, 1886 at the age of 56. She had planned her own
funeral. It was held at the mansion on Main Street and ended at the family plot
near the house on Pleasant Street. At her request, her casket was covered with
violets and pine boughs, while she herself was dressed in a new white gown and
had a strand of violets placed about her neck. Before she died, Emily left
specific instructions for her sister and a housemaid, Maggie to destroy all the
letters she had received and saved. The box of packets and poems was found with
these letters, but Emily had not said anything about destroying them. Her sister
Lavina was determined to have these published, but Susan kept them for two years
before they were released to Higginson. In 1890 and 1891, some of the poems were
published. They received a great response, but no more were released until 1955,
when the rest of her poems were published. Though she was not religious it is
said that many of her poems do reflect religious views. She wrote many of her
poems on pain, death, and suffering, although a lot were also written about
love, lust, and romance. A lot of people see her as a hermit who spent much of
her life writing and living by herself. She chose her words for her poems in a
way that allows the reader to choose the meaning of the poem to them and relate
it to their life. She wrote nearly eighteen hundred poems, most staying away
from rhyme and punctuation. Emilys poems did not have titles because she
never wanted them to be published. Many of her poems are a little hard to
interpret, but after reading this hopefully you will have a little bit better
understanding of her life.


Bibliography
American Authors pgs. 25-48. “Emily Elizabeth Dickinson,” Microsoft
Encarta Encyclopedia 99. Microsoft Corporation. Lebita, Edzen. “Emily
Dickinson, a few selected poems” February 20th,2000 http://www.geocities.com/SouthBeach/Lights/4192/dickinson.html
President and fellows of Harvard College, “Virtual Emily” February 20th,
2000 http://www-unix.oit.umass.edu/emilypg/index1.html http://www-unix.oit.umass.edu/emilypg/1813.html
http://www-unix.oit.umass.edu/emilypg/1830.html http://www-unix.oit.umass.edu/emilypg/1840.html
http://www-unix.oit.umass.edu/emilypg/1855.html http://www-unix.oit.umass.edu/emilypg/1860.html
http://www-unix.oit.umass.edu/emilypg/1874.html http://www-unix.oit.umass.edu/emilypg/1886.html
http://www-unix.oit.umass.edu/emilypg/1955.html http://www.sappho.com/poetry/historical/e_dickin.html

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Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson Emily Dickinsons Views on Death Emily Dickinsons views on death, as conveyed through her poetry, changed from poem to poem depending on her mood. Her writings also span over many years and one can see a progression in her thoughts on the subject of death as she matures as a person. Dickinson was not as interested in detail, but in the circumference of the idea. Many of her poems leave the reader lacking a definite answer to the issues of death brought up within the poems. As with most poetry, Dickinson often writes about subjects and activities that relate her thoughts in a roundabout way.

For example, in her poem I Heard a Fly Buzz a dead observer watches a fly buzzing around during the last few moments of his existence. Of course, she could really care less about talking about a fly. She is trying to share of views on death. Her writings usually supply, at least, a direction of her thoughts on this matter, but the reader must use intuition in order decipher the deeper meanings. While she expresses the thought that death is simply a separation from loved ones, whittled in with doubts about Christian views, Dickinsons highly regarded poetry communicates to the readers that death is no big deal and almost welcomes bereavement, but, at times, one gathers a sense that death truly scares her to deathno pun intended. It is believed that Emily suffered some sort of tragic loss around 1860, when she slowly became a recluse dressed in white.

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She saw fewer and fewer visitors until finally none. She seemed to have had very few intense relationships throughout her life, including a tutor, a minister, and her father. These men came and went, by death or from moving away, but Emily took the losses very hard. These types of occurrences molded much of her thinking about life and death. Though she didnt seem to get out of her comfort zone and actually experience life, some critics claim, Emily seemed to be a knowledgeable individual and her mind was well traveled. The suffering she endured through the losses of these key characters in her life shaped what she thought about death.

Death to her was merely a separation, which she had already experienced twice. In the first stanza of poem 49 she writes, I never lost as much but twice, And that was in the sod. Twice have I stood a beggar Before the door of God! These thoughts blur the line between heaven and hell for Emily. To her heaven and hell are both separations from the life she knows. Surely her attachment to the familiar only intensified her fear of death in this aspect.

Dickinson lightly tosses around her doubts in the Christian beliefs. After high school, Emily attended a female seminary school for less than a year before dropping out because of homesickness despite being just a few miles away. She also felt uncomfortable because she refused to accept the popular doctrine of beliefs. Dickinson believed that death was no big deal. This is quite to the contrary of her fear of dying, but nevertheless is portrayed in several poems. The second stanza of poem 465 writes, The Eyes aroundhad wrung them dry And Breaths were gathering firm For that last Onsetwhere the King Be witnessedin the Room Everyone gathered in this poem, mourning the death of the persona, is expecting some spectacular arrival of Christ or God.

While the persona is taking in the final reflections of its existence a fly appears. It buzzes around for a moment and then the persona loses the ability of sight. Thats all there is to the poemno incredible climax. Jesus doesnt fall from the heavens. The poem just ends. She believes that death is just as much a part of being as life is.

When you die, you just die. Emily is also suggesting the uncertainty and uncontrollability of death. Everyone has these plans of how things are supposed to go when we die. Or we just assume that we will experience a peaceful extinguishment of life. The persona of this poem signifies that, even though we might have plans about the end, death is uncontrollable and unimaginable.

In the fourth stanza of poem 258 she writes, When it comes, the Landscape listens Shadowshold their breath When it goes tis like the Distance On the look of death This stanza again speaks of the incapability to understand death. In a letter Dickinson wrote about how there are certain depths in every consciousness about the adventure of death, despite being unable to ever comprehend the matter. Poetry and Poets.

Emily Dickinson

Delve into a world constructed from images and thoughts streaming along at the speed of light. Watch them flow as they for buildings, people, animals and objects. Streaming along at the speed of light, one can only catch glimpses of what is truly concealed within by the river. As it travels through the mind, it touches everything. Forming, altering, defining, nothing is truly what it seems or what we interpret it to be. Hidden within the stream lies powers that are truly incomprehensible to the human mind.

In Your thoughts dont have words Emily Dickinson intertwines this realization within the constructs of her poem. Dickinson explores the complex world of the mind through her poem. She delves into the realization that what we know and what flows though are minds are truly two different things and that these two things are as different as night and day.

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In the first two lines Your thoughts dont have words every day, they come a single time can be best put into an analogy. Ones thoughts come streaming into ones mind, flooding and saturating ones thoughts. Because ones thoughts come pouring in without any restraint, the mind must maintain itself in the only way it seems possible. Thus, our thoughts speak with words, sentences, images that we can comprehend and understand.

The next two lines, lines three and four, further solidify this interpretation. Like signal esoteric sips of the Communion Wine communicates the idea that what we are able to think and comprehend is only a fraction what truly flows through our minds. As fast as we can interpret our thoughts, thousands more stream by without us even realizing it. As the lines state, the thoughts that we interpret are as occasional as when we sip the Communion Wine, coming to us only once every so often because we are always preoccupied with so many other things. However, despite the fact that we only realize a tiny fraction of the thoughts that comes to us, they are truly as precious as the Communion Wine.

Lines five and six bring the realization that all that is our thoughts are just the ideas and concepts that we are familiar with. Thus, making it easier for our minds to interpret the concepts with greater ease. Which while you taste so native seems so easy so to be reiterates this concept. The lines are saying that the thoughts that we interpret are familiar, or native, to us and that is why they are so easy to comprehend. This realization, however, brings to light a rather disturbing fact in that if out thoughts are really only those that we are familiar with, then thousands of ideas and revelations pass through our minds, untouched because we are unable to comprehend what relevance they truly have or what importance they contain within them. Such a concept also establishes why those that we would deem intelligent are so because they are capable of interpreting more of there thoughts than we would normally disregard as nonsense.
In the final two lines of Dickinsons poem, the entire poem is summed up and brought to a close with the idea that we do not even realize that we are only experiencing a fraction of the thoughts and emotions that flow through out minds. You cannot comprehend its price nor its frequency, states a profound revelation that Dickinson has. And that revelation is that our thoughts are more precious than we know. They define us and allow us to interpret our world to suit out needs and desires. Out thoughts are our own no matter what anyone says. Furthermore, we do not even realize that we are only experiencing a fraction of what truly goes through our heads. Instead, we believe everything that we are able to interpret is all that goes through our head.

The human mind only utilizes ten percent of its true capacity. Dickinsons poem seems to center around this notion and the idea that because of this we see the world as we would like it to be and in ways that we are familiar with. Which leaves the question then, what is the world truly like? If everyone interprets the world in different ways, then the concept of an idea world differs from one person to another because everyone defines the world in different ways. Also, the meanings of life and love are left open to interpretation because our minds defines them as different meanings than everyone else.
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