Emily Dickinson: A Journey With Death

Emily Dickinson is almost always at the top of any list of America’s best and most unique poets. She combined her interest in death with her talented and expressive writing to create some of the the best poems and writing of the 19th century. Dickinson not only succeeded in writing incredible poems but she made her readers feel every single poem that she wrote as if they were experiencing death themselves.

Emily Dickinson’s life was marked by the loss of loved ones and poor health that contributed to her fascination with death. Emily Dickinson was born on December 10, 1830 to Edward and Emily Dickinson in Amherst, Massachusetts. Emily had two other siblings William and Lavania born in 1833. Emily and her siblings grew up going to
primary school in Amherst and then transferred over to Amherst Academy because her father was a lawyer and wanted to get the best education possible for his children to be successful. The transition was easy for Emily who enjoyed every aspect of school including the challenges it gave her, the academics, friends and so many other opportunities to grow and become successful in the future.

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The subject of death, including her own, appears many times throughout Emily Dickinson’s’ poems and letters. A fascination with death was not uncommon or unusual to Emily because she lived next to the town cemetery for 15 years of her life during a time where it was common for younger people to die earlier then they expected. In 1880 and again in 1833 Dickinson suffered from the loss of several close friends and family members including her mother whose death worsened Emily’s own delicate physical condition.

Emily Dickinson died on May 15,1886 after 2 ?? years of being in bad health. Dickinson suffered from the loss of several close friends and family which caused severe headaches and nausea mentioned in many of her poems and letters which she wrote in the months before her death. Dickinsons’ doctor had a difficult time treating her illness because she was so reclusive she would not even allow him in the room to take her pulse. The cause of her death was Brights Disease, a kidney disease, which doctors assumed was the cause but there was no documented evidence to prove that this was true.

For Dickinson death is the supreme touchstone of life(Dr. Daghman p. 148) Dickinsons poetry is probably the most well known poetry that uses the theme of death in her poetry and writing. At least one fourth of all her poems use the theme of death. Dickinson had been preoccupied by the subject of death all her life and her letters contain many references to death. The themes of religion and immorality also show her preoccupation with death. Emily Dickinsons treatment of the theme of death in her poetry may be regarded as one of her outstanding contributions to American literature. (Dr. Daghman p.149) A possible reason for Dickinsons fascination with death was her religous values and her belief in God and an afterlife.

The first volume of Dickinsons poetry was published four years after her death on 1890. Dickinsons poems went through 11 editions in less than 2 years and became widely popular. She is now considered one of America’s poets of all time. Emily Dickinsons’ poetry changed existing definitions of poetry by experimenting with expression and using speakers who are excellent observers of society and who want to find ways to escape the trials of this world. Dickinson created a unique language for expressing what was possible but no one knew how it could be done.

Death often takes on human characteristics in Emily Dickinsons poems, Death is portrayed as a Coachman in Because I Could Not Stop for Death (Dr. Daghamin p. 151) one of Emily Dickinsons most popular poems. In this poem death is described as a kind gentlemen who stops to pick her up in his carriage. In other poems Death is described as a lover wooing a lady in Death is the Supple Suitor. ( Dr. Daghmin p.151)

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