Response Essay, 3 pages (600 words)

Literary response 1

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Emily Dickinson Emily Dickinson, the American poet of the 19th century is known for her deep and profound poetry. Even though she lived through the era of civil war, her writings never had any political influence (Fyre, 2005). In fact, most of her work was intensely personal and revolved around her own persona (Perkins and Perkins, 2007). One of the major themes or voices that come out of her poetry is Death. For Dickinson, death was not something scary or terrible as she considers it as a supreme touchstone. In her poetry, she has tried to personify death, as a very charming suitor. In her famous poem, Death, she says, ‘ Because I could not stop for Death, He kindly stopped for me’ (Dickinson, 2005, line 1-2). This does not reflect a scary concept or notion, whereas, it even seems like a near to pleasant experience for her. For her, the concept of death was intense, but lines like ‘ Safe in their alabaster chambers,’ in the poem The Sleeping (Dickinson, 2005, line 1) and ‘ I heard a fly buzz when I died’ (Dickinson, 2005, line 1) in the poem that goes by the same name clearly illustrate that she was fascinated with this subject. The casual tone that she uses for death by referring to it as ‘ he’ or by bringing about the reference of a fly is in fact a reflection of how deeply she thought about death. Therefore, one key voice that comes out in Dickinson’s poetry is her obsession with death. Closely related with the voice of death is the tone of morbidity that one can sense in Dickinson’s poetry. Emotions like pain, separation and hunger surface often in her poetry, giving out a strong sense of morbidity (Eberwein, 1998). The line, ‘ Pain has an element of blank; It cannot recollect, When it began’ in the poem ‘ Pain’ (Dickinson, 2005, line 1-3), brings about a sensation of overpowering and almost numbing pain that is experienced in extreme situations. This is further exemplified in her lines ‘ After great pain a formal feeling comes– The nerves sit ceremonious like tombs’ (Dickinson, 2005, line 1-2). While she has described the numbness that pain brings along, she is also quick to echo how endurance of this pain shapes up the human experience. Hence, another prominent voice that echoes characteristically in the works of Emily Dickinson is morbidity. While death and morbidity come out prominently, Dickinson proves to be surprise with her poetry on religion and God. She wrote poems that show her preoccupation with Jesus’ teachings and some of them are directly addressed to him. Her poetry shows that her attitude towards God is not a constant one as at times there is friendliness and love, whereas as at times, these change into extreme ire and bitterness. When she says ‘ He fumbles at your soul’, (Dickinson, 2005, line 1-2) there is a sense of disappointment, which is later added up when she says, ‘ The Savoir must have been, A docile Gentleman (Dickinson, 2005, line 1-2). Dorothy Oberhaus places Dickinson in a poetic tradition of Christian devotion (Oberhaus, 1995). The intensity and deepness around the themes of death, morbidity and God are three prominent themes in the poetry of Emily Dickinson that make her a unique poet. References Dickinson, E. (2005). The Poems of Emily Dickinson. Ed. Franklin, R. W. . Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press Eberwein, J. D. (1998). An Emily Dickinson Encyclopedia. Westport: Greenwood Press, Frye, N. (2005). Northrop Frye’s Writings on the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries. Ed. Salusinszky. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division Oberhaus, D. (1995). Emily Dickinson’s Fascicles : Method and Meaning. PA: Pennsylvania State University Press Perkins, G, and Perkins B, (2007) eds.  The American Tradition in Literature, Volume II, 12th edition. New York: McGraw-Hill

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