Emily Dickinson is one of the most influential American authors, whose works transformed the way people view poetry and female authors. Her exceedingly complex life has proved a tremendous influence on her instrumental poetry, creating its originality and distinguishing her from other great poets of the nineteenth century. As well, her use of symbolism and imagery has continued to make her work celebrated. Although Emily Dickinson lived a private and reclusive life, full of death among many close family members and friends, her ability to write beautiful and captivating poetry has defined her as a remarkable writer of American Literature and a leader among female poets.
Born in Amherst, ...view middle of the document...
Over the course of her life, she wrote 1,775 poems, all recognizable and many masterpieces. Most of her poems were untitled, with the exception of a few (Kellman 613).
Dickinson’s poetry went unpublished for most of her life, except for a few poems in newspapers, all with anonymous authors however. It was not until after her death in 1886, that any notion of Dickinson’s poetry becoming published came to fruition. Emily’s sister Lavinia discovered hundreds of her sister’s poems after her death, and approached the two friends of Dickinson, Thomas Wentworth Higginson and Susan Dickinson and wife of an Amherst College professor, Mabel Loomis Todd for help. A book of Dickinson’s poetry was published just four years after her death, however, it was heavily edited to regularize punctuation and make it more appealing for the times. It was not until 1955 that Thomas H. Johnson published an unedited version of Emily Dickinson’s poetry called The Poems of Emily Dickinson that the world was able to experience her poetry as she intended (Unger 452).
Emily Dickinson had many influences in her life to help inspire her poetry. During her early years of writing as a teenager, she was heavily influenced by family friend Benjamin Franklin Newton. Newton inspired her writing by discussing intellectual topics with a young Emily and sharing books of literature and poetry. He eventually introduced Dickinson to the poetry of William Wordsworth, whose romantic poetry inspired the young writer heavily.
Other great influences on Dickinson were the works of Ralph Waldo Emerson and William Shakespeare. In 1850, Benjamin Newton gave Dickinson a copy of Emerson’s first collection of poems. All of the poems contained in the book portray styles and subjects analogous to Dickinson’s poetry (Wider). William Shakespeare also proved to be a major influence on Dickinson’s poetry. She was an avid reader of his works, and many references to his plays and sonnets have found their way into her letters and poetry.
Puritanism and Transcendentalism also played a large role in the influence of Dickinson’s work. Dickinson grew up during a time period when the Puritan religion was extremely prevalent in society. The Puritan religion emphasizes a strict code of morality and emphasizes the idea that man is placed on earth to be faithful and obedient to God. Dickinson dismissed these Puritan beliefs and opposed the idea of a higher power influencing her thoughts and life, instead choosing to accept aspects of the idea of Transcendentalism which rejected the thoughts and beliefs of Puritanism. Dickinson did not entirely believe in Transcendentalism or Puritanism but instead followed an alternative religion that consisted of a combination of both religions. Religion and nature are common recurring themes in Dickinson’s poetry, both of which are influenced by her Puritan upbringing and Transcendentalist beliefs.
Emily Dickinson’s writing style is unmistakable. In her poetry, she tries to...