Emily Dickinson: Life and Her Works


Emily Dickinson made a large influence on poetry, she is known as one of
America\'s most famous poets. With close to two thousand different poems and one
thousand of her letters to her friends that survived her death Emily Dickinson
showed that she was a truly dedicated writer.
Emily Dickinson was born in Amherst, Massachusetts on December 10,1830
to a prominent family, her father Edward Dickinson was both a lawyer and the
Treasurer of Amherst College. Emily\'s mother was Emily Norcross Dickinson.
Emily had one older brother, William Austin and a little sister, Lavinia. She
was educated at the Amerherst Academy, the institute that her grandfather helped
found. She also spent a year at Mount Holyoke Female Seminary in South Hadley,
but had left because she did not like the religious environment. For a woman of
this time, this much education was very rare.1
Emily Dickinson was a very mysterious person as she got older she became
more and more reclusive too the point that by her thirties, she would not leave
her house and would withdraw from visitors. Emily was known to give fruit and
treats to children by lowering them out her window in a basket with a rope to
avoid actually seeing them face to face. She developed a reputation as a myth,
because she was almost never seen and when people did catch a glimpse of her she
was always wearing white. Emily Dickinson never got married but is thought to
have had a relationship with Reverend Charles Wadsworth who she met in the
spring of 1854 in Philadelphia. He was a famous preacher and was married. Many
scholars believe that he was the subject of her love poems. Emily probably only
saw Wadsworth an additional three times after their first encounter which was
only done by him going to Amherst, where she lived. In 1861 Wadsworth moved to
San Francisco. It is after this time that Emily really started to produce
hundreds of poems. Emily Dickinson submitted very few poems to publishers.
She felt that her poetry was not good enough to be read by everyone. Eight of
her poems were published during her life time either by her friends who
submitted them to a publisher without her consent or Emily Anonymously. (Emily
Dickinson 1996,1)

In 1862 she told a friend "If fame belonged to me I could not escape
her...My Barefoot-Rank is better."
It is also thought that Emily Dickinson had a passionate relationship
with Susan Gilbert. Emily wrote three times more poems to Susan then to any one
else. They probably met at Amherst. They became very close friends, they
shared many similar interests and desires. Emily became very affectionate
toward Susan and trusted her completely. Their relationship went sour when
Susan became engaged to Austin Dickinson, Emily\'s brother. For two years their
friendship ended completely. When Austin and Susan moved next door their
relationship started over and Emily began to write her love letters to Susan
again. Feminist scholars who have examined Emily Dickinson\'s letters and poems
to Susan from a lesbian viewpoint think that her letters and poems to Susan move
beyond a romantic friendship to a blatantly passionate relationship. No one
knows how Susan responded to Emily\'s love letters and poems. When Emily died
all of her letters from Susan were destroyed. So no one will ever know whether
they did or did not have a love affair. I think that the mysteries of Emily
Dickinson\'s life is what makes her poetry so interesting because it can be
analyzed in so many different ways. Emily\'s poems and letters to Susan could
suggest an eroticism that could be intentional, subconscious, or merely
coincidental. Emily may have had perfectly innocent intentions, but to modern
audiences translated to be sexually suggestive. (Poetry of Emily Dickinson
1996,2)
Other poems that Emily wrote were mostly about the exploration of the
concept of religious faith. Her father was a very religious man who practiced
a Protestant sect that closely followed the tenets of New England Puritanism,
but she was never able to practice his faith with dedication. She was drawn to
transcendentalism of Ralph Waldo Emerson, who was one of the leaders of this
movement in the belief in the essential unity of creation, the goodness of
humanity, and the supremacy of insight over logic and reason. This philosophy
also taught a renunciation of authority, whether it be religious, scientific, or
political. These new ideals led her to think a lot more about life and it\'s
ultimate destiny. The concepts of good and evil, life