Emily Dickinson’s Death Poems Emily Dickinson’s world was her father’s home and garden in a small New England town. She lived most of her life within this private world. Her romantic visions and emotional intensity kept her from making all but a few friends.
Because of this life of solitude, she was able to focus on her world more sharply than other authors of her time were. Her poems, carefully tied in packets, were discovered only after she had died.They reveal an unusual awareness of herself and her world, a shy but determined mind. Every poem was like a tiny micro-chasm that testified to Dickinson’s life as a recluse. Dickinson’s lack of rhyme and regular meter and her use of ellipsis and compression were unimportant as long as her poetry was encouraged by it. Although some find her poetry to be incomprehensible, illiterate, and uneducated, most find that her irregular poetic form are her original attempts at liberating American poetry from a stale heritage. Her poetry was the precursor to the modern spirit with the influence of transcendentalism not puritanism.
Her treatment of Death and profound metaphysical tendencies were part of the singular nature of her genius. Emily’s simple language draws rich meanings from common words. The imagery and metaphors in her poetry are taken from her observations of nature and her imagination. She approached her poetry inductively, combining words to arrive at a conclusion the pattern of words suggested, rather than starting with a specific theme or message. Her use of certain words resulted in one not being able to grasp her poetry with only one reading. She paid minute attention to things that nobody else noticed in the universe. She was obsessed with death and its consequences especially the idea of eternity.
She once said, Does not Eternity appear dreadful to you I often get thinking of it and it seems so dark to me that I almost wish there was no Eternity. To think that we must forever live and never cease to be. It seems as if death which all so dread because it launches us upon an unknown world would be a relief to so endless a state of existence. Dickinson heavily believed that it was important to retain the power of consciousness after life. The question of mental cessation at death was an overtone of many of her poems.The imminent contingency of death, as the ultimate source of awe, wonder, and endless questions, was life’s most fascinating feature to Dickinson. Dickinson challenges the mysteries of death with evasion, despair, curiosity or hope in her poetry as means to clarify her curiosity.
From examining her poems of natural transitions of life and death, 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 and death 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 learn of the dying persons’ experience at the point of mortality is evident in her poetry. 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 after death.Dickinson believes that a dying person’s consciousness does not die with the body at death but rather it lives on and intensifies. In To know just how He suffered-would be dear To know just how He suffered — would be dear — To know if any Human eyes were near To whom He could entrust His wavering gaze — Until it 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 — And did 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 — to Me — And was He Confident until Ill fluttered out — in Everlasting Well — And if He spoke — What name was Best — What last What One broke off with At the Drowsiest — Was He afraid — or tranquil — Might He know How Conscious Consiousness — could grow — Till Love that was — and Love too best to be — Meet — and the Junction be Eternity expresses her belief about the experience of dying and her wonderment of what happens during death. Dickinson suggests that the dying person’s final gaze will be on paradise as if at the point of death it sees what is to come. Dickinson herself wants, to know just how he suffered To know if any Human eyes were near To know if He was patient many questions like these are raised as to the experiences of the dying.
She probes at the implications of leaving the living, searching for the strength of deaths appeal, and wondering abou the junction of love that existed during life and love that is to be, after life. Questions are raised about the person’s attachments to the world already known rather than insights into another world after death. The impossibility of Dickinson to fully penetrate the mysteries of the afterlife does not allow for insight into this other world.
Since she could not follow the dead beyond her world Dickinson focused on their effect on the world they left behind. She searched for answers from the dead as they lay in their resting-places in Safe in their Alabaster Chambers. Safe in their Alabaster Chambers — Untouched my Morning And untouched by Noon — Sleep the meek members of the Resurrection — Rafter of satin, And Roof of stone. Light laughs the breeze In her Castle above them — Babbles the Bee in a stolid Ear, Pipe the Sweet Birds in ignorant cadence — Ah, what sagacity perished here! The Alabaster chamber, untouched by morning and untouched by noon, represents the tomb of the dead and their separation from the world. Dickinson concludes that she finds no answers from the dead because she is unable to understand their world.
However, she knows that they are only sleeping and will come back when they are resurrected …