Because I Could Not Stop For Death
Emily Elizabeth Dickinson
- 1 Emily Elizabeth Dickinson
- 2 Because I could not stop for death
- 3 “Hope” is the thing with feathers
- 4 Work cited
Emily Elizabeth Dickinson
Emily Elizabeth Dickinson was born on 10th December 1830 in Amherst, Massachusetts, America (Sewall 321). She was a reclusive person who spent most of her life in reclusive isolation despite the fact that she was born to a prominent family (Sewall 368). She was unrecognized by her as less than a dozen of her nearly 1800 poems she had written during her lifetime were published.
Emily is known as an innovative poet due to his use of syntax and form in her poetry work (Dickinson 23). However, most of her work was released after her death- on May 15th, 1886, in Amherst, after her younger sister Lavinia discovered her cache of poems. The discovery by her sister gave her work breath as the work became apparent to the public. Most of her work was published in 1890 following her death in 1886 by personal acquaintances Mabel Loomis Todd and Thomas Wentworth Higginson, though they altered the poems significantly. Most of her complete and unaltered collections of her poems were availed when Thomas H. Johnson a scholar first published “The Poems of Emily Dickinson” in 1995 (Dickinson 1531).
According to Dickinson (1535), there were significant alterations of the poems that were published during Emily’s lifetime so that they would fit the conventional poetic roles of the time. Those poems Emily wrote were unique during the era she wrote them as they were characterized by; slant rhyme, short lines, lack of titles and the unconventional punctuation and capitalization. Emily shared most of her poems with her family; mostly her sister in law, and friends though no one knew the amount of work she had done on poetry.
Emily Elizabeth Dickinson was born into a prominent family at the Homestead of the family, but not wealthy. Her father, Edward Dickinson, was an influential and prominent lawyer who served as the treasurer of Amherst College before he was elected as a legislature in the Congress for one term. Emily Elizabeth’s mother, Emily Norcross Dickinson, who came from a leading family, was a hardworking housekeeper and also she was an introverted wife (Sewall 321). Her mother also wrote letters which seem to be equally quirky and also inexpressive. Emily’s parents were loving but they were austere, and this made it hard for her and her siblings to get attached tightly to their parents. Emily got connected intimately to her sister, Lavinia, and her brother, Austin.
According to Sewall (324), during Emily’s young life, she was well behaved. When she visited her aunt while she was two, her aunt Lavinia described her as perfectly contented and well acted saying that she was a perfect child but little troubled. The aunt also noted Emily’s big talent to play piano and her affection for music, which she called “the music.”
Emily joined a primary school which was only a two-story building, and her education was “ambitiously classical for a Victorian girl.” On 7th September 1840, Emily and Lavinia, who was her sister, joined Amherst Academy at the same time (Sewall, 335). Emily spent seven years in the school studying English and classical literature, geology, Latin, history, botany, arithmetic and also “mental psychology.” Her school’s principal stated that Emily was a “very bright” and also a bright student who was honest in her school chores. However, Emily was out of school severally after she was sick with the longest period when she was out of school being in 1845-1846 when she attended school for only eleven weeks. While writing to a friend, she stated how she enjoyed school- “a very fine school.” (Sewall 341).
According to Wolf and Dickinson (12), Emily was traumatized and troubled by the “deepening menace” of death and particularly of the people close to her such as her cousin Sophia Holland who was also a close friend. Two years after her cousin’s death, Dickinson wrote that she preferred to die if she could not have a chance to look after her and see her face. The demise had a significantly affected her psychological well-being, and this made her very melancholic. For her to recover, her parents sent her to Boston to live with her other relatives for a short while. During this period, she met longtime friends and correspondents like Jane Humphrey, Abiah Root, and Abby Wood. She also attended Susan Huntington Gilbert who later got married to Austin, her brother.
According to Sewall (416), there was a religious revival that took place in Amherst in 1845, which resulted in 46 converts among which were Emily’s peers. Emily then wrote a letter to her friend saying that she had never enjoyed such happiness and peace as it was the first time she found her savior. She added that it was a great pleasure to commune alone with the great God and have a feeling that the Great God would listen to her prayers. However, Emily did not make a formal declaration of her faith, and the experience ended after a short while. Her going to church ended after two years, and she said that while other people keep the Sabbath by going to the church, for her, she kept it by staying at home.
When Emily was eighteen, Emily befriended a young attorney, Benjamin Franklin Newton, who together with Humphrey, Emily referred to variously. It is likely that Newton introduced Emily to the William Wordsworth and therefore influencing her poetry work. Emily wrote a statement in 1862 saying that when she was young, her friend taught her about immortality but eventually he went and never returned. It is believed that she was referring to Newton. Newton offered her a lot of gifts that may have influenced her work of poetry significantly.
Emily’s mother became bedridden due to various chronic diseases from the mid-1850s until she died in 1858 (Sewall 73). The ill-health of her mother made it hard for her to move out of the house as she was the one taking care of her mother. The domestic chores for her increased as her mother’s health continued to decline. After forty years, Lavinia stated that when their mother became chronically sick, one of the two sisters had to stay at home and take care of her. Emily took the responsibility and stayed home to take care of their ailing mother.
According to Sewall (401), from the 1850s, Emily Dickinson withdrew from social life and stayed indoors for most of the time. In the 1860s, she retired from the social life almost entirely. Scholars suggest that this was the most productive period of Emily’s poetry work. However, it is not specific as to what made her withdraw and extreme seclusion from the social life. Some argue that it may because of her definite diagnosis to have “nervous prostration.” Others believe that she had agoraphobia and epilepsy.
According to Ward et al. (76), after a letter by Thomas Wentworth Higginson, who was a literary critic, to the Atlantic Monthly whose heading was, “Letter to a Young Contributors,” Emily resolved to write the letter to him. The letter by Higginson was in April 1862. Emily’s note was seeking literary guidance which she had not and could not receive from anyone close to her (Sewall 532). Another reason for writing the letter to Higginson was to ask him to publish her poetry work as it was increasingly difficult for her to write poems without an audience.
During the time Emily lived, many knew her as a gardener than a poet. Her farming could be attributed to her studies in botany from when she was the age of nine (Sewall 404). She had assembled 424 flower specimens and pressed them into a sixty-six-page leather-bound herbarium. She then classified and labeled the flower specimen using the Linnaean system.
According to Sewall (71), Emily Dickinson’s father died on 16th June 1874, after he suffered a stroke. Emily neither attended her late father’s funeral that was held in the Homestead entrance hall nor did the memorial service hold on 28th June. She wrote a letter to Higginson saying that her father had a pure heart and he was terrible and that she thought that none other like him existed. On June 15th, 1875, a year after Emily’s father died, Emily mother got a partial paralysis after suffering a stroke. Emily lamented her mother’s illness and she described the situation as “Home is so far from Home.”
Emily never got married. However, during her later life, it is believed that she had a friendship with Otis Phillips Lord, an elderly judge, which is speculated to be a late-life romance. The relationship fallowed the demise of Lord’s wife in 1877.
According to Sewall (400), the late years for Emily and her family was a tough one as many of her close family members died she described how the deaths of people who close to her were tearing her spirit apart. She continued to say that the deaths were too close that before she raised her heart from one death, another came. Emily then became very ill for several weeks. After days of the disease, Emily died on May 15th, 1885, at the age 55.
Because I could not stop for death
The poem, because I could not stop for death, by Emily Elizabeth Dickinson was first published posthumously in 1890 (Wolf and Dickinson 1531). Emily did not give the poem a title, and the editor who published the poem first gave it the title “The Chariot,” but later it was referred by its fir line by the editors. The poem has six quatrains whose meter alternates between the iambic trimester and the iambic tetrameter (Susan and Dickinson 2).
Death, which is personified, is described as a gentleman. It picks Emily in its horse-drawn carriage after stopping. The speaker, Emily, and Death move in a relaxed place where the speaker seems to be completely comfortable and at ease (Susan and Dickinson 2). They walked through a school, where children strove, the Fields of Grain and the setting sun.
According to Howe and Dickinson (3), when it gets to the late evening approaches, Emily becomes cold because she was ill-prepared for the trip with Death which was impromptu. She was wearing a coat of thin silk shawl. Death and the speaker reach where her burial ground will be and stop. The place is marked with a small headstone. The house is described as a swelling ground which makes it clear that this is a grave and that it is not a cottage.
In the final stanza, the speaker reveals that the ride she had with Death was centuries ago. However, it seems like the horse pointed to “Eternity” or the passage to an afterlife. This gives a glimpse of the immortality she describes (Dickinson and Howe 3).
According to Dickinson and Howe (3) In “Because I could not stop for death” poem, Emily is communicating from beyond the grave. She describes her journey with Death, which is personified, from the present life to afterlife. Death, as presented in this poem, is not intimidating or even frightening. The speaker in the poem describes death to be a courteous and gentle guide and leads her to eternity.
The most exciting thing to me in the “Because I could not stop for Death” poem is how the writer starts the first line. She does not waste time by warming up the poem. She makes it clear that the poem will be about death in the first line. Beginning the poem with the word “Because” is very interesting. It makes the audience assume that the speaker is explaining something. This makes the poem alive and active to the audience.
One style that Emily uses in this poem and most of her poems is capitalization of nouns. Sometimes the reason is not known, but in this poem, she capitalizes Death to personify it. She makes Death a gentleman who drives a horse.
Another style that she uses is the use of dashes at the end of the sentences. This pulls the reader to the next thing she wants to be known to the reader.
According to Dickinson and Howe (4), the central theme of the poem is Mortality. The speaker describes her attitude towards her death and what her death day was like. The picture he paints about that day is evident in her audience’s minds. Another theme which is opposing to the subject of Mortality is immortality. The idea is seen when she describes how her death day is described in the afterlife.
“Hope” is the thing with feathers
Emily wrote this poem in 1862, which was a prolific year for her (Ruth and Dickinson 1254). In the poem, Emily Dickinson uses a conceit in the title of the poem to liken hope to a physical living thing of a bird (a “thing with feathers”). The use of the metaphor which transforms the home into a bird is fascinating to me.
The choice of her first line is very is interesting. She writes that the bird “perches in the soul.” “Perch” is a verb that indicates it’s the bird’s choice alight in the soul and that it is not confined. Therefore, Emily suggests that for one to have a feeling of hopefulness, he/she create an environment for the “bird to perch.”
Emily Dickinson disregard of the conventional types of a poem by writing the poem with an odd-looking syntax which has clauses interrupted by dashes. She uses a comma only once in the whole poem. This style of poem creates confusion to the readers as they may need to pause and emphasize certain phrases.
In the first stanza, Emily emphasizes the word hope with speech marks. The speech arks mention that the poet will define the elusive word “Hope, ” and she goes on to define it using a metaphor. The use of feathers metaphorically to define “Hope” is essential as feathers are so gentle and soft to touch and they are also stable in flight.
The imagery grows when she states that not only is the “Hope” feathery, but it can also sing. The Hope perches in the soul and sings all the time. However, the song is sung by “Hope” is unique as it does not have words for someone to understand rationally.
In the second stanza, Emily uses double dash which requires the audience to be keen so that they can make two distinct pauses. As seen in the first verse, Hope sings in the soul. In the second stanza, Emily states that hope sings more sweetly when the going gets more robust than it does in normal circumstances (Ruth and Dickinson 1256).
In the third stanza, which is the last stanza, Emily reveals the personal pronoun “I” which appears here for the first time. The use of the personal pronoun “I” may be an indication of the personal connection with the subject.
The central theme of the poem is that hope is unbreakable and no matter what it cannot be destroyed. From the poem, Emily shows that a person should never give up.
From Emily Dickinson’s poems, several features are standard. For instance, there is an unusual use of syntax. In the “Hope is the thing with feathers” poem, he uses a total of 15 dashes. Another characteristic of Emily’s poems is the personification of the characters. In many of her poems, Emily uses iambic trimester as it is the case in the “Hope is the thing with Feathers” poem.
Dickinson, Emily, and Susan Howe.? Because I could not stop for Death. ProQuest LLC, 2004. Dickinson, Emily, and Theodora Ward.? The Letters of Emily Dickinson. Harvard University Press, 1986. Dickinson, Emily.? The Poems of Emily Dickinson. Vol. 1. Harvard University Press, 1998. Miller, Ruth, and Emily Dickinson.? The Poetry of Emily Dickinson. Wesleyan University Press, 1968. Sewall, Richard Benson.? The Life of Emily Dickinson. Vol. 1. Harvard University Press, 1994. Wolff, Cynthia Griffin.? Emily Dickinson. Doubleday, 2015.
Emily Dickinson's I Heard A Fly Buzz
The Victorian era is named after Queen Victoria, who reigned from 1837 to 1901. However, it is ironic that this era is named after a woman because most women in this era had no power. Women were expected to desire to have a husband and be married in their early twenties (Hughes).
While men had the freedom to receive an education and vote, women’s lives were centered around domestic life and church. They lived a highly restrictive life based on cultural norms of the time. For most people in America during this time period, their primary focus was on religion. They were churchgoers who read their Bible and lived God-fearing lives. Emily Dickinson was not your typical Victorian woman. Emily Dickinson rebelled against the expectation that women were to be submissive and devout.
Emily Dickinson was born in 1830. With the exception of a few months of traveling, Dickinson stayed in Amherst, Massachusetts for the entirety of her life (Bloom, Bloom’s Major Poets, 11). During her youth, she had a stereotypical Victorian upbringing; her prominent family was very sociable and opened their home to the community. She studied at Amherst Academy, then went on to Mount Holyoke Female Seminary; however, Emily returned home without ever finishing her studies (Bloom, Bloom’s Major Poets, 11). She then removed herself from society and spent almost all of her time at her family estate, the Homestead. Throughout her lifetime, she only published seven poems. She sent a few of her poems to Thomas Higginson to get his advice on her work. He thought her poems were inspirational, but since they were so different from the poetry of the Victorian era, he advised her not to publish them (Bloom, Emily Dickinson, 6).
Yet, after her passing in 1886, her sister Lavina found nearly a thousand of her unpublished poems hidden. After she had them edited, Dickinson’s unreleased poems were published and quickly became popular. During the Victorian era, people had to be ready for death to happen at any moment. Illnesses and misfortunes were more common than they are today. Therefore, Emily Dickinson was very familiar with death. Her mindset on death throughout most of her poems could be considered gloomy to today’s society, but it was not unusual for people during the Victorian era. During the 1880s, she endured the loss of several close friends (Emily Dickinson and Death). Most people during the Victorian era died at a young age. Even Dickinson had a typical Victorian-era death. She passed away at the young age of 55, after almost three years of ill health (Emily Dickinson and Death). No one can officially determine how she died; yet, researchers think she had high blood pressure. Her poems about death, such as, Because I could not stop for death, I Felt a Funeral, in my Brain, and I heard a Fly buzz- when I died are typical of Dickinson’s preoccupation with death and the afterlife. Her theme of the mystery of death is expressed best in these three poems.
In the poem Because I could not stop for Death, death is depicted as a suitor who drives a carriage. The carriage holds death, Immortality, and the speaker- a woman who has not made time for death, so death has come for her. The speaker comments that since she was too busy for death, he stopped to pick her up. Death takes the speaker on a ride that symbolizes her life. During the ride, they pass her school and a field of grain. The school symbolizes her life as a child, and the field of grain symbolizes the blossoming, growing moments in her life. As they pass the setting sun, it symbolizes the end of her life. As the sun is setting, she senses her life drawing to a close and a chill overtakes her (Bloom, Bloom’s Major Poets, 37). She realizes that the gown she is wearing is very thin and it can no longer protect her. Death then stops the carriage so the speaker can view her new home, which is her grave. In the last stanza, the speaker explains that it has been centuries since her ride in the carriage, and since then, she has been laying in her grave. However, she believes that a century of laying in her grave is shorter than the one day she rode in the carriage because the ride towards death is long.
Dickinson’s interpretation of death in Because I could not stop for Death is unusual. Death is a mannerly, but powerful being. Dickinson purposely personifies death as a suitor in Because I could not stop for Death, rather than portraying death as something dark and terrifying. Instead, she portrays him as a kind and considerate gentlemen caller. Death was nice enough to stop for the speaker, even though she was too busy to stop for him. He is also kind enough to bring along a chaperone, Immortality, along for the ride. He drives slowly in order to keep them both comfortable. He is such a clever, sweet talker that she does not need to worry about work or even leisure activities because he has everything taken care of. For the majority of the ride, she thinks her suitor is kind, but she does not realize where he is taking her. She is startled when she sees that he has brought her to her own grave. Ironically, in its depiction of Death on one hand as the courtly suitor and on the other as the fraudulent seducer, the poem reflects a basic ambiguity toward death and immortality characteristic of Emily Dickinson (Ferlazzo, This Mortal Life). Dickson’s interpretation of death in Because I could not stop for Death as a pleasurable but powerful being is representative of her use of universal themes.
In I Felt a Funeral, in my Brain, the speaker’s approach to death is much different. The speaker is deceased and explaining her internal experience. She explains her experience with death as a funeral going on in her brain. The mourners are walking back and forth, and for a moment, she thinks she understands what is happening to her. Then, as the service begins, she feels her mind become numb. The boots that the mourners are wearing are as heavy as lead. When they carry the coffin across her soul, she loses her sanity. The speaker’s mind is a completely claustrophobic affair, where the narrator is at the center of the experiences, yet completely detached from it (Pineiro). She finds herself alone with the loss of any sanity or stableness that she once had (Pineiro). The speaker explains it as a Plank in Reason broke/ and I dropped down and down (Dickinson, I felt a Funeral, 9-10). The poem ends in a puzzling way because the speaker dies in mid-sentence. She is trying to explain that she is finished knowing something (Dickinson, I felt a Funeral, 20); however, the speaker never articulates what she came to realize.
Death is explicated completely different in I felt a Funeral, in my Brain than in I could not stop for Death. In I felt a Funeral, in my Brain, death is chaotic. Death is portrayed as a terrifying and bewildering experience that is hard to understand. The speaker is confused by the process of death; therefore, the only way she can describe it is the feeling of a funeral going on inside her brain. The speaker is terrified and completely loses her sanity. This poem, describes the end of sanity, the loss of reason, relevance, and self-control with a formerly familiar environment (Ferlazzo, The Struggle for Sanity). By using a funeral for the setting, it creates a sad and somber mood. The mourners walking back and forth, in the first stanza, represents the sudden confusion and commotion in her mind. The coffin that the mourners carry symbolizes her soul being prepared for death. This poem signifies the uncertainty and confusion that the speaker feels towards death.
In I heard a Fly buzz- when I died, the speaker is on her deathbed. There is a quietness all around her, like the air between the Heaves of Storm (Dickinson, I heard a Fly buzz, 4). The family has gathered around, anxiously awaiting the speaker’s last words. The speaker is expressing her final wishes. When she is signing away her valuables, there interposed a fly (Dickinson, I heard a Fly buzz, 12). During her final moment, which is supposed to be filled with hope and confirmation of an afterlife, she is interrupted by a fly. It is annoying and continues to distract the speaker. It gets in the way of the speaker and the light in the room. Then, as she tries to see the light, the windows failed (Dickinson, I heard a Fly Buzz- when I died, 15) and her opportunity was gone. She then could not see, and her eyes began to close. Her eyes closing signifies her passing.
The speaker in I heard a Fly buzz- when I died is preparing to die. She is signing away her prized possessions and is peacefully saying her goodbyes when a fly interposed (Ferlazzo, This Mortal Life). Yet, by the end of the poem, the fly has a deeper significance than just being bothersome. When the speaker is awaiting the presence of Jesus, she gets the fly instead. The fly is a symbol for the distractions that come between Jesus and worldly things. As the fly buzzes around, the speaker becomes distracted and does not solely focus on the arrival of the king. Therefore, the speaker’s fixation on the fly suggests that it somehow compromised the speaker’s death- and perhaps her afterlife (Bouson 109). Also, the fly gets between the speaker and the light. The light that Dickinson is referring to is the light of God (Ferlazzo). The speaker’s mood towards death then changes from content to fear. Now that she cannot see and concentrate on the light, she is unsure about death; yet, it is too late. Her window of life closes and the speaker is confused as to where she is going eternally.
Poetry matters; yet, in today’s society, it is underrated. On the surface, a poem may seem like it has no meaning. However, by reading it over again and analyzing it properly, it has a much deeper meaning. Dickinson defined poetry like this: If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can warm me, I know that is poetry (Tips for Reading Dickinson’s Poetry). This definition explains how poetry can be an emotional and powerful being. A simple twelve-line poem can convey more feelings than a novel can. It can make the reader feel complicated emotions that they have never felt, or even an emotion they did not know they have. Also, poems capture feelings that are universal. In Dickinson’s’ writing, she uses universal themes that can apply to every reader’s life.
Dickinson’s preoccupation of death is universal and timeless. Even though people during the Victorian era could relate to her poems, many people in today’s society can too. Death is a mystery that science and technology cannot explain. Dickinson’s poems display a variety of emotions about death. In Because I could not stop for Death, death is personified as a tender and kind being. In I Felt a Funeral, in my Brain, death is portrayed as confusing and terrifying. In I felt a Fly buzz-when I died, the fly is a symbol of distractions between the world and eternal life. Dickinson explores every emotion towards death in these three poems. Death is indeed an inevitable cycle of life. It is universal, and one cannot escape it. It can be expected, or it can sneak up on one as unexpected as the night sky falling. It also can be portrayed as any of the symbols that Dickinson included in her poems to support her theme of death. Death, much like modern-day poetry appreciation and Dickinson’s life, can be personified in the same way: known, but not vividly thought of enough.
A Review Of Emily Dickinson's Poem
For I have but the power to kill, / Without- the power to die- (3-4) Emily Dickinson wrote in one of her poems, My Life had stood-, a Loaded Gun. She grew up in Amherst, Massachusetts where she wrote over a thousand stories in the comfort of her home. Born in 1830, Dickinson wrote about life using themes including death, nature, immortality, and more.
According to Neil Scheurich at University of Kentucky College of Medicine, In other moods, however, Dickinson laments a kind of suffering that seems much more of the body, deadening creativity and draining the spirit. Dickinson attended Mount Holyoke Female Seminary in 1847 in a means of trying to get a better education but soon dropped out because she felt pressured by the church. Some say that this influenced her writing, but she was mostly inspired by observations and experiences in her life. She is often compared to Walt Whitman in that they were arguably two of the greatest poets in America throughout the 19th century. This shows that her writing impacted many lives especially because her poems are still prominent today. Four years following Dickinson’s death, her work started to expand nationwide due to her family discovering and promoting all of her 1,775 poems. Some of her most well-known poems include, but not limited to: Because I could not stop for Death, My Life had stooda Loaded Gun, I heard a Fly Buzzwhen I died, and much more. Emily Dickinson’s writing shows that death is inevitable.
Inevitability is common throughout Dickinson’s writing comparatively with her embracing the idea of death, instead of fearing it. Dickinson wrote, The Carriage held but just OurselvesAnd Immortality. (3-4) in one of her famous poems: Because I Could Not Stop For Death. From this, it is understood that Dickinson is accompanied by Death himself while in a ?carriage’. In other words, Dickinson is being transported by Death to the afterlife, but then she mentions immortality which concludes that Dickinson views Death as continuing with life, never-ending, and afterlife.
Considering Dickinson views death as an upholding thing, she often wrote poems about death as well as being alongside death.
I heard a Fly buzz – when I died –
The Stillness in the Room
Was like the Stillness in the Air –
Between the Heaves of Storm –
From this, it was concluded that she is writing about hearing a fly buzz at her deathbed. This gives readers a sense of eeriness and somewhat confusion. She started off the poem with a basic comment of I heard a Fly buzz – (Dickinson 1) but then abruptly there was a pause, and she wrote, when I died -(Dickinson 1). Which wants the readers to know what happens next, which is what is so captivating about her writing.
With Blue – uncertain – stumbling Buzz –
Between the light – and me –
And then the Windows failed – and then
I could not see to see –
Themes In Emily Dickinson's Poetry
Emily Dickinson continuously mentioned in her poems, death and different death scenarios which leads the reader to believe that she is not afraid of what the after-life is like. In the 19th- Century she was considered to be one of the two leading American poets with the other famous poet Walt Whitman. Emily Dickinson’s unique management of death stands outstanding in the American poetry and literature history.
She spent most of her time in her room alone, writing poetry. She was born in 1830 and died in 1886 in her house. She was known for the lady in white, because she would only talk to visitors through a closed door and would only wear the color white. Emily Dickinson in her poetry correlates God and death.
In the poem I heard a fly buzz when I died, Emily uses symbolism towards the fly which is representing death. Many people read, talk and some have even had a chance to witness a death, but no one knows how death feels or looks like. Emily Dickinson tries to show readers a different way of accepting death. As an example, in this poem she states, I heard a Fly buzz when I died The Stillness in the Room Was like the Stillness in the Air Between the Heaves of Storm (I heard a fly buzz when I died, paragraph 1) in this part it shows how Emily Dickinson tries to put the reader in the eyes of the person dying in the poem. The fly symbolizes calmness and peace, which shows what they will see in the after-life as they leave the real world and go on to heaven. Another example in which Dickinson talks about death and the afterlife in the poem is With Blue uncertain stumbling Buzz Between the light and me and then the windows failed and then I could not see to see (I heard a fly buzz when I died, paragraph 5) in this line it shows how the fly slowly left and when she tried to open her eyes she could not see anymore. This goes to show how god can be present in many ways and in many forms. It shows how she realized her soul was not in her body anymore. Now, it is part of heaven which means God has closed her door to the real world and opened it to the after-life.
Furthermore, Dickinson continues to mention death in her poetry putting as an example Because I could not stop death which is one of her most famous poems. Humans tend to imagine that death is the worst event that could happen in life. In this five paragraph poem, Emily portraits death as something that is peaceful and comfortable. Dickinson makes death look like more of a person than an event. She describes death as a man who is kind and a gentleman even though it is coming to take her away to the other world in a carriage. Emily states Because I could not stop for Death He kindly stopped for me (Because I could not stop for Death, paragraph 1) meaning that death comes as a surprise, when no one expects it, however, she received it very welcoming. He kindly stopped for me shows how she felt towards death, and how she was ready and calm for the death to come for her anytime.
Also, it represents how she is dying slowly, not in a hurry. Making the readers to believe she had a disease because of the long period of time she had to die. In the third stanza when Dickinson states, We passed the School, where Children strove At Recess in the ring, We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain, We passed the Setting Sun (Because I could not stop for Death, paragraph 3) she is referring to all the phases of her life. School meaning her childhood, fields of gazing grain meaning her adulthood and finally the setting sun meaning how her life is ending and entering to the other world. Whenever someone is dying, based on God beliefs the human being get to see a flashback of everything they have lived in a short period of time, just like Emily tried to demonstrate in that paragraph. Finally, in the last paragraph Dickinson states I first surmised the Horses ?Heads Were toward Eternity (Because I could not stop for death, paragraph 5) demonstrating that they lastly arrived at eternity, meaning her time in Earth has come to an end. She emphasizes death as a journey and when they arrived at that last stage her journey ended. She was not longer dying, she was in fact dead.
In addition, Emily Dickinson continues having relationship with the afterlife and God in another of her poems I felt a funeral in my brain. She begins the first paragraph by saying I felt a Funeral, in my Brain, And Mourners to and fro Kept treading – treading – till it seemed That Sense was breaking through (I felt a funeral in my brain, paragraph 1) showing that she is not comparing the feeling people get when they are at a funeral. She states, I felt a funeral not I felt like a funeral meaning she was experiencing a physical sensation with her five senses. Also, in the second stanza she declares Kept beating – beating till I thought My mind was going numb (I felt a funeral in my brain, paragraph 2) which the reader gets the idea that the repetition of words Beating, beating represents her heart pounding and mind going berserk with everything she was facing in the moment. Equally important, in the last stanza she declares And then a Plank in Reason, broke, And I dropped down, and down And hit a World, at every plunge, And Finished knowing then (I felt a funeral in my brain, paragraph 5) Emily with this paragraph tries to explain the readers she has nothing left now, her reason was the only thing she had and it was broken. Meaning her mind was not conscious anymore. The words I dropped down and hit a world express how she was transported to a different world that was not Earth and suddenly she also stopped knowing or thinking. Representing that she is now dead. This poem symbolizes how Emily lost control of her body but still was conscious of everything that was happening in her funeral. The intense description Dickinson uses in her poem makes the readers to portrait themselves as if they were experiencing something similar. However, there are many thoughts about this ending in Emily’s poem I felt a funeral in my brain.
In the same way, Dickinson tried to expose more about dark and spiritual beliefs and symbolized it through her poetry. This poem is for someone who is really attached to nature and God. Emily starts the poem with a joyful tone. In the first stanza, Some keep the Sabbath going to church, I keep it, staying at home, with a bobolink for a chorister, and an orchard for a dome (Some keep the Sabbath going to church, paragraph 1) meaning she does not feel necessary to go worship church like other people because she had a garden that serves as a worship place. Symbolizing that humans do not need a specific place to worship God, it can be anywhere. In the second stanza, she refers to the clothing people use while going to church Some keep the Sabbath in Surplice, I, just wear my wings (Some keep the Sabbath going to church, paragraph 2) meaning that people tend to dress properly whenever they are going to church. On the contrary, when she says, I just wear my wings she believes that individuals should be in comfortable clothing to pray.
Furthermore, when she reached the third stanza she makes the readers believe that pastor’s speeches are all about the afterlife. And the sermon is never long, so instead of getting to heaven, at last, I’m going all along (Some keep the Sabbath going to church, paragraph 3) this sentence means that she believes that the priest talks more about what happen when people die, rather than talking of the present life. She believes pastors must talk about what is going on in this life because is the life humans are living in the moment. Emily Dickinson shows towards this poem how she feels lucky to be one of the persons who can feel spiritual by herself. She makes the readers believe how God is always around us and that sometimes people who go to church, sit and listen to the pastor, do not have that spiritual connection with God. Emily believes that just like God is everywhere, individuals could reach him and feel close to him everywhere too.
Finally, another poem talking about God, its beliefs and how Emily feels about it. In I know that he exists based on Joe Dimattio a blogger that writes about love and religion he states Emily Dickinson was surrounded by a God world in transition. The old faith-based religion of the pilgrims had become an idea in constant need of revitalization (Joe Dimattio, 2018) Dickinson express her feelings in four paragraphs talking about God and nature, which make the readers get a different idea from what everyone says about God and life. In the first stanza I know that He exists. Somewhere in silence He has hid his rare life From our gross eyes. (I know that he exists, paragraph 1) she talks about how he exists, referring to God, but nevertheless she does not know where to find him. She makes the readers imagine that she believes in God and restates that he is everywhere just like she said in her poem Some keep the Sabbath going to church. However, in the next paragraphs she makes people get the idea that she does not truly trust God.
According to Susan Kornfeld, a blogger who talks only about Emily Dickinson states that The poet frames this as a game. The woman who wanders in the woods seeking evidence of the Divine and imagining that an angel or God himself might manifest in front of her is hoping for a fond Ambush.(Susan Kornfeld, 2012) Which supports what Emily portraits on her poem, she started to give the audience the thought of her doubting God. Also, in the third stanza she added Butshould the play Prove piercing earnest Should the glee glaze In Death’s stiff stare giving the audience the chance to believe that she is referring to a game that ends up in death. Also, she tries to the readers understand the game, she is trying to represent it as Hide and seek. Which represents how Emily feels with God because she feels he is not there when he is needed the most. Finally, she made the readers imagine that Emily Dickinson did believe in God, but some events happened in her life that made her doubt about his existence.
To conclude, Emily Dickinson frequently questioned the nature of the universe and Gods beliefs. Out of all the poems she created, only seven were published and the seven were famous for her unique way of management through writing about death, nature and God. Emily Dickinson changed the way people perceived death, and made it seem as if it was a peaceful event. Not only did she convince the reader to look at death as something not so worrisome, but she also made people reflect the power of God. Thus, this way it is shown how Emily Dickinson was so curious and passionate about revealing answers and associating death and God.
Emily Dickinson: Death From Christian Standpoint
Emily Dickinson is just one of many with a unique writing style that is well known in literature. She is mostly known for her short, lyric like poems that are generally directed with a single speaker that expresses their thoughts into a syntax form of writing.
In her poetry, Dickinson exhibits a common theme of representing death from a Christian standpoint throughout a number of her works including: Because I Could Not Stop for Death, I Heard a Fly Buzz– When I Died, and I Never Lost as Much but Twice. In Because I Could Not Stop for Death, Dickinson uses a Christian view to illustrate her experience in the carriage ride towards death with Mr. Mayhem himself. As she rides through what seems to be her life, she points out the different things she sees such as We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain (3) which has a Christian tone woven throughout it. In the Bible, grain is mentioned a lot in relation to the well-being of life, so as the speaker passes by the fields of grain, you can’t help but think that she is making an ambiguous statement relating her life to the field of grain. It could be considered that she may be talking about her voyage from her nonstop life to an abrupt stop for death. As Dickinson goes on, she makes a comment on the sun setting in the sky saying We passed the Setting Sun- /Or rather-He passed Us- (4-5), but if she is on this exploration into death, then why doesn’t she ascend into the sun rather than ride past it? Perhaps she is relating the sun to death in the way that as the sun disappears from the sky, so does warmth and light.
Like the sun, death seems to do the same thing to any living thing: once the living thing is dead, the warmth escapes as well as light. With the statement on the setting sun, I start to wonder how fast this carriage ride is in fact going. When the speaker states that Since then-?tis Centuries-and yet / Feels shorter than the Day (13-14), once again, I immediately think to the Lord and I compared these lines to the Bible once again where it says that one day in heaven is like a thousand days on earth and that time has no relation to God. Nancy Carol Joyner comments on the speed of the carriage ride stating that they ride slowly because Death is not in a hurry and the speaker has politely put aside both her work and play in order to go with him (par. 2). Based on Joyner’s statement, I assume that the carriage is going at an exceptionally slow speed as if there is no perception of time with death. Like other poems by Emily Dickinson, I Heard a Fly Buzz– When I Died carries the same common theme of death from a Christian standpoint. The first spiritual acknowledgement we get to is during the last few moments of life as friends and family gather around for their last goodbyes. Dickinson shows a glimpse into what goes on during one’s last gasps for air: The Eyes around – had wrung them dry – And Breaths were gathering firm For that last Onset – when the King Be witnessed – in the Room(5-8) Dickinson clearly takes note of the surroundings in the room around the speaker and reveals a number of things to take into account.
Firstly, we have dried eyes sitting around the speaker which is most likely signifying that the emotional pain that has been overpowering these people has finally taken a toll on their bodies. It is now to the point where there is still the visible sadness about the situation, but there are no more tears to cry. In the next line, breaths are being held in an ironic anticipation. The friends and family of the speaker have lost their ability to cry, and now they are holding their breaths and are probably afraid to blink in fear of losing the person they love in a literal blink of an eye. Then we get to the last two lines in what everyone is waiting for: God. The speaker, along with the rest of the people in the room (presumably), are waiting for God, the King to ascend down from heaven to take his child home. In the last stanza, While mourners wait for God to appear in the death room, a fly With Blue-uncertain stumbling Buzz–‘ occupies the last of the dying person’s consciousness. (Gray, 68). The poem finally ends as the speaker passes away and she says I could not see to see (16). It is assumed that God did not come to get her to take her home, but she died with the sound of a fly’s buzz. As I have shown through some of Emily Dickinson’s poems, she carries a theme of death from a Christian standpoint throughout all of them. In I Never Lost as Much But Twice, the speaker starts out on the topic of mourning a lost soul, more specifically, two lost souls. She immediately refers to herself as a beggar / Before the door of God! (3-4) in which she has grieved at the foot of the Lord in search of something, maybe closure or peace of the passing of the souls she has lost. Randall Huff debates that for the speaker, it felt as if everything had been taken from her until she seemed a virtual beggar at God’s door without spiritual resources of her own(par.1).
However, as you continue on to the next lines of the poem, the speaker reveals that angels, twice descending, / reimbursed my store(5-6) to which one can assume the author is saying that God has seen her pain and sent new people into her life to fill the metaphorical whole in her heart that was left gaping open from friends passed. The image that the reader can get from those few words are a bunch of heavenly figures, maybe even God himself, coming down from heaven to reassure the speaker in her faith in God. Finally, the speaker states in an almost prayer type matter, Burglar, banker, father, / I am poor once more! (7-8). The speaker is basically saying that God is like a burglar, a banker, and a father. God is like a burglar in the way that he steals people away from you when you don’t expect it and seemingly without the slightest bit of thought into how it would affect the person. It is almost like in I Heard a Fly Buzz– When I Died in that God took the speaker from her family and friends. Secondly, the speaker describes God as a Banker in how he can always provide and reimburse’ you in life like he did when giving her new friends. Lastly, the speaker defines God as Father because he is the almighty one. He is the creator of all things including all humans, or otherwise known as his children.
I Never Lost as Much but Twice may be the greatest example of showing death from a Christian standpoint. Even though Emily Dickinson is known for her unique use of personification in her work but the way she incorporates death into her poems in a way that is only known to her. Throughout Because I Could Not Stop for Death, I Heard a Fly Buzz– When I Died and I Never Lost as Much but Twice, Dickinson carried along the theme of death from a Christian standpoint that showed life, grief, and the last moments leading up to death.