Emily Dickinson and Charles Wright

Topics: Bible, Poetry, Emily Dickinson Pages: 6 (1732 words) Published: May 24, 2005
Faith and spirituality can be explored in the poetry of the New England poet Emily Dickinson and the Southern poet Charles Wright. Dickinson seeks for inspiration in the Bible, while Charles Wright looks to Dickinson as a source of information, guidance and inspiration. Wright suggest that "[Dickinson's] poetry [is] an electron microscope trained on the infinite and the idea of God…. Her poems are immense voyages into the unknowable."(Quarter) Charles Wright whose poetry captures a compilation of influences states that "There are three things, basically, that [he] writes about — language, landscape, and the idea of God." Dickinson and Wright centered their poetry in their belief in God and both share the influence of the Bible. Although, Emily Dickinson physically isolated herself from the world she managed to maintain friendships by communicating through correspondence. Ironically, Dickinson's poetry was collected and published after her death. Dickinson explores life and death in most of her poems by questioning the existence of God. Dickinson applies common human experiences as images to illustrate the connection from the personal level of the human being, to a universal level of faith and God. This can be seen in Dickinson's Poem (I, 45). There's something quieter than sleep

Within this inner room!
It wears a sprig upon its breast—
And will not tell its name.

Some touch it, and some kiss it—
Some chafe its idle hand—
It has a simple gravity
I do not understand!

I would not weep if I were they—
How rude in one to sob!
Might scare the quiet fairy
Back to her native wood!

While simple-hearted neighbors
Chat of the "Early dead"—
We—prone to periphrasis
Remark that Birds have fled!
Dickinson employs vivid impressions of death in this poem. In the first line, she employs the analogy between sleep and death; sleep is silent but death lives within silence. She uses the word "it" to help identify something other than human. She declares that "it….will not tell its name" as thought it refuses to speak and then resents the dead for its stillness and laziness. Then she acknowledges the attraction she has to death by doubting its "gravity". In the third stanza, she expresses that she would not cry for the dead because not only is it offensive to the dead but it might panic the soul to return to dust. Christians believe that from the earth we are made and once we die, we return to the dust of the earth. In the last stanza, she refers to the neighbors as "simple-hearted" which can mean foolish or naïve as they speak to the dead. Then she utters that "We-" have the tendency to a roundabout way of expressing things and that instead of sobbing, she suggests in the last line that we should yell "Birds have fled!" This quote is from the book of Jeremiah in the bible as a reference to heaven. Her reference to "We" can be interpreted as believers of God who have faith that once they die they go to heaven. Dickinson's spirituality is portrayed in this poem as she applies the influence from The Bible to portray her belief in the dead. Dickinson acknowledges the dead and embraces them but at the same time she addresses her uncertainty in faith. She does so exploiting faith in her poems to ridicule those who have shallow beliefs. Death becomes to Dickinson the mountain of vision and the supreme educator of mysterious reality. This enlightenment can be seen in Wright's poem "Words and the Diminution of All Things" from his book Buffalo Yoga. The brief secrets are still here,

and the light has come back.
The word remember touches my hand,
But I shake it off and watch the turkey buzzards bank and wheel Against the occluded sky.
All of the little names sink down,
weighted with what is invisible, But no one will utter them, no one will smooth their rumpled hair.

There isn't much time, in any case.
There isn't much left to talk about...

Cited: The Holy Bible: King James Version, New York: American Bible Society,
Gardner, Thomas, "Charles Wright 's Zone Journals and Emily Dickinson", Kenyon Review, Restructured and Restrung, Spring 2004, Vol.26 Issue 2, p 149, 26p
Johnson, Thomas H. The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, Toronto: Little Brown and Company
Wright, Charles,
---. Halflife: Improvisations and Interviews, Ann Arbor: University Michigan Press, 1988
---. Quarter Notes: Improvisations and Interviews, Ann Arbor: University Michigan Press, 1995
---. Zone Journals, Farrar Straus Giroux, NYC, 1988
---. The Academy of American Poets, April 30, 2005
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