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Emily Dickinson

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never sleeps at all
And sweetest in the Gale is heard
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm
I’ve heard it in the chillest land
And on the strongest sea
Yet- never in extremity
It asked- a crumb of me


There are many poets in the world. Truth is they all write for different reasons. Among the many poets, there may be some you identify with. Personally, I relate to Emily Dickinson. Her poems spoke of love, nature, and death. Emily’s strange lifestyle is the reason many people don’t know about her life. Additionally, Emily’s poems are the quite the mystery themselves.

On December 10, 1830 on the Dickinson homestead in Amherst, Massachusetts, Emily Norcross Dickinson gave birth to baby Emily Elizabeth Dickinson. Despite being, born into a strict Puritan household Emily declined an invitation to join the church. During this time, Emily’s immediate family size was considered small. Emily had two siblings, Austin, the oldest, and Lavinia the youngest. Emily’s relationship with her mother was very strained. For a year, Emily attended Mount Holyoke Female Seminary. Attending other schools such as: Amherst District School and Amherst Academy, Emily was exceptionally educated in comparison to other girls of her time. Dickinson had a natural social flair that retreated as she matured. It is said that Emily wore white on a daily basis. She did this as to mock matrimonial traditions. Emily hardly had any visitors. She was reclusive throughout most of her life. Living near a cemetery, she pondered the subject of death. Also, as a young adult Emily endured turmoil. She witnessed the passing of friends, family, and her own father. After her mother had a stroke, she became heavily dependent of Emily to care for her. Emily rarely left the house. However, when she did come into contact with people, the affect they had showed in her poetry. One of the few people Emily met kindled great emotion in her. She was infatuated with Reverend Charles Wadsworth. The pair met while Dickinson was in Philadelphia. After a visit to Emily’s home, Wadsworth left for the West Coast. Charles’s departure is believed to have heightened the lovesickness in her poems. Although this may be true, two other men, Otis P. Lord and Samuel Bowles may be at fault for Dickinson’s brokenhearted and heartsick poems. Even so, this doesn’t change the fact that Emily wrote of deep admiration and companionship. By Emily’s early thirties, she lived in mostly complete physical isolation from the rest of humanity. In spite of her reclusiveness, Emily kept up with several correspondences. During her state of isolation she spent lots of time with her family. Edward Dickinson, her father, was regularly involved in state and national politics. He served in Congress for one term. Isolation wasn’t just a trait Emily had; her sister Lavinia too shared her reclusive nature. Like Emily, Lavinia remained unmarried and lived at home until death. On May 15, 1886, Emily died from Bright’s disease. The object of many of her poems- death, had found her.

Emily Dickinson’s poetry is a great mystery. While writing, Emily didn’t follow the expectations of women- written literature. Dickinson composed the majority and best of her poems during the civil war. Over her lifetime- fifty-five years, she wrote over 1,700 poems. Approximately ten of her poems were published during her lifetime without her consent. In her poems, Emily wondered of the consequences of her lifestyle. In some of her poetry, Emily questioned god’s manners and religion. Within some of her poems the “lover” refers to death and eternity. Dickinson’s poems support her philosophy- “our most important moments are over as soon as they begin. Emily’s poetry mirrors her loneliness. Furthermore, speakers of her poetry normally reside in a state of want. Dickinson’s writing was influenced by Ralph Waldo Emerson, seventeenth century English poets, and the Book of Revelations. Questioning religion, Emily once said, “I was almost persuaded to be a Christian…I cared less for religion than ever.” This shows she rebelled from her parents attempt at a strict religious upbringing. After Emily’s death, her sister Lavinia found a plethora of fascicles- small bindings of Emily’s poems. Lavinia took about herself to edit and publish Emily’s poems. In the 1900s all of Emily’s poems were published, completely unedited.

As a teenager today, it becomes easier for me to understand the troublesome feelings and emotions, which Dickinson experienced. All in all, she was a misunderstood American poet. Emily was talented. She enjoyed playing piano and singing. Critics make her out to be weird and satanic, but she’s just insecure and had misfortunes, making her question everything. Emily was a great poet, and her poetry is being read all around the world, even 200 years later.




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