Emily Dickinson was born in 1830 in Amherst, Massachusetts, from a Puritan family. She received a religious education, until when she refused to declare her faith in public and came back home form the seminary. She lived her whole life in her family’s house; her only form of contact with the world was letter writing and her poems. She hid her mind and, as well as her person to everyone apart from her family, especially her sister Lavinia.
She died in 1886, and in 1890, Thomas Higginson published her work in “Poems by Emily Dickinson”, but only in 1955, her poetry was published in the same form as she wrote it.
Style and themes
Dickinson’s writings were influenced by the Bible, Shakespeare, Milton, the Metaphysical poets, Emily Bronte, Robert Browning and the Puritan tradition combined with Emerson’s transcendentalism.
Her style has been defined as the poetry of economy and control, since she used to keep her poems short, using many monosyllabic words and rhetorical devices. She also used many dashes to break the rhythm of her poems and to let the reader reconsider and think about what had just been said.
Frequent themes in Dickinson’s poetry are:
• Death: the poet was deeply interested in death, she saw it as the liberation from a constant state of anxiety, and as the place were human beings tend to, in order to become one with the Universe.
• Love: this theme is explored by Dickinson in his various aspects. It is the expectation of eternity as the hope of a final spiritual union.
• Nature: in her poems, Nature can be present in three different ways:
1. Through an objective description
2. By juxtaposing what is observed and the soul of the observer
3. As a source of imagery