Although she lived a seemingly secluded life, Emily Dickinson's many encounters with death influenced many of her poems and letters. Perhaps one of the most ground breaking and inventive poets in American history, Dickinson has become as well known for her bizarre and eccentric life as for her incredible poems and letters. Numbering over 1,700, her poems highlight the many moments in a 19th century New Englander woman's life, including the deaths of some of her most beloved friends and family, most of which occurred in a short period of time (Benfey 6-25).
Several biographers of Dickinson point out her methods of exploring several topics in "circumference," as she says in her own words. Death is perhaps one of the best examples of this exploration and examination. Other than one trip to Washington and Philadelphia, several excursions to Boston to see a doctor, and a few short years in school, Emily never left her home town of Amherst, Massachusetts. In the latter part of her life she rarely left her large brick house, and communicated even to her beloved sister through a door rarely left "slightly ajar." This seclusion gave her a reputation for eccentricity to the local towns people, and perhaps increased her interest in death (Whicher 26).
Dressing in white every day Dickinson was know in Amherst as, "the New England mystic," by some. Her only contact to her few friends and correspondents was through a series of letters, seen as some critics to be equal not only in number to her poetic works, but in literary genius as well (Sewall 98).
Explored thoroughly in her works, death seems to be a dominating theme through out Dickinson's life. Dickinson, although secluded and isolated had a few encounters with love, two perhaps serious affairs were documented in her letters and poems. But, since Emily's life was so self kept and private the exact identity of these people remains unsure. What is known, is during the Civil...