Michael Salvucci Mrs. Comeau English 10 Honors Death, Pain, and the Pursuit of Peace Although Emily Dickinson’s poetry is profoundly insightful, her poems have a very confinedpan of subjects and themes. Most likely due to her early life and social reclusion, Dickinson’s poetry is limited to three major subjects: death, pain, and on a somewhat lighter note, nature. Dickinson’s poetry is greatly influenced by her early life as she led an extremely secluded and pessimisticlife. In her early adult years the poet spent one year studying at female seminary, from 1847 to 1848. Dickinson’s blunt pessimistic attitude is shown in a letter, written to a friend, as she says “I am not happy…Christ is calling everyone here, all my companions have answered, and I am standing alone in rebellion.” (Meltzer 20-21) The poets self-described rebellious manner can be acclaimed to her residence featuring many politically active and dominant men, as her brother, father and grandfather were all attorneys with interest in politics. Again in a letter to a friend written during a political convention, Dickinson wonders “why can’t [she] be a delegate in the convention?” as she says “[she] knows all about the tariff and the law.” (Sewall 64-65) She recognizes the gender barrier in society and as a result Dickinson develops a unique style of poetry. Because I could not stop for Death, He kindly stopped for me; The carriage held but just ourselves And Immortality. (Lines 1-4) The speaker’s use of the word ‘kindly’ to describe death exemplifies his civil and considerate manner, but is his courteous character an illusion? Later in the poem the speaker writes: We slowly drove, he knew no haste, And I had put away My labor, and my leisure too, For his civility. (4-8) Because of death’s kindness in stopping for the speaker, she “put[s] away / [her] labor, and [her] leisure too,” (5-6), is death being true in taking her to heaven, or is he betraying her? There interposed a fly (9-12)...
Cited: Sewall, Richard B. Emily Dickinson: A Collection of Critical Essays. Eaglewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1963 “Emily Dickinson.” Authors and Artists for Young Adults. Vol. 22. Gale Research, 1997. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale, 2008. “Emily Dickinson: An Overview.” Brooklyn University, 2005.
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