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Emily Dickinson: Poetry Of Pain And Beauty In Heartbreak

2870 words - 11 pages

In Emily Dickinson's lifetime, she was an unknown talent (except to a select few she had chosen to share her expressions of life with) that had only seven poems published while she was alive, and the poems that were published were probably all done so without her immediate knowledge or consent (Bloom 12). Her poems show two different sides of her: some an `irreverent little girl' and others `a grief-stricken, mature woman' (---. 8). When examining poems by Emily Dickinson, you see how the pain in her life and the heartbreak she felt and witnessed contributed to many of the over two thousand poems she wrote during her 56 years of life.

Emily Dickinson was born on December 10, 1830. She had two siblings: an older brother, Austin and a younger sister, Lavinia. Even though Emily Dickinson's literary popularity continues to grow, the majority of her life is still a mystery. We do know that she was a woman who lived in seclusion by her own choice. In 1862, she began living her life on what she considered her own terms, in private. As the years past, she withdrew more and more from social activities and very seldom had visitors.

Emily was a woman who loved reading and writing (5-7). The Dickinson family was a prominent family of Amherst, Massachusetts. Emily attended and graduated from Amherst Academy (the college which her grandfather helped start). She then attended South Hadley Seminary, where her father sent her to expand her education (8). While attending South Hadley, Emily experienced `worrisome emphasis on her spiritual condition', she was homesick and became physically sick (16-18). But her education played a major role not only in her life but also in her poems (8). She wrote about life as she experienced it; telling the truth as she saw it (Bianchi v).

The only reason Emily allowed her works to be viewed by others was because of her desire to become a better poet and her desire for the appraisal of the work she had completed. This is proven by the continuing need and request she made of Thomas Higginson as a mentor and critic of her poems; it can also be seen from the many drafts of letters and poems that were found after her death. Her poem numbered 1212 (`A word is dead / When it is said, / Some say. / I say it just / Begins to live / That day', (Johnson 534-35)) gives some proof that Emily knew her poems could possibly live forever; this could be the reason she requested her sister to burn the poems after her death (---. 5).

Emily's actions and choice of clothing (a simple white dress that she wore all year round) were what caused the town gossips to title the middle Dickinson child eccentric and `a bit peculiar' (6-7). As one critic has stated about Emily Dickinson, `writing was as necessary to her as breathing, and her poetry was not just what she wrote: it was who she was'. Emily's intent in her poetry was to capture the truth of life and human experiences and then retell them in her poems (37). What the...

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