Influences On Emily Dickinson Essay, Research Paper
The influences on Emily Dickinson?s writings were friendship, nature, religion, and
mostly her own life and experiences. Dickinson is known for being one of
America?s greatest poets. ?Her poetry reflects her own life and gives an intimate
recollection of her own inspirational moments.?(g3) Most of her poetry was never
meant to be published but since it was, she became very well known for it.
Dickinson did not have contact with very many people in her life, but the
ones she did see a lot had a great impact on her thoughts and poetry. The most
influential of her friends who also offered her a lot of guidance about her life and
poetry was a minister named Charles Wadsworth. They met in Philadelphia and
he quickly became her best friend. ?Wadsworth was an influence because his
orthodox Calvinism acted as a beneficial catalyst to Dickinson?s theoretical
influences.? (d4) He gave her ideas of many different things to write about and to
think about. Wadsworth was also a solitary romantic person that Dickinson could
confide in when writing her poetry. Many people believed that Dickinson had a
great love for Wadsworth even though he was married. Many critics believe that
he was the basis for many of her love poems. When Wadsworth moved to the
west coast, his departure made Dickinson very depressed and heartsick, which
showed in her poems. This may have been the thing that started a period of
depression in Dickinson?s life.
Another person that greatly affected her poems was a women named
Susan Gilbert. Emily wrote many letters to Gilbert which included many of her
greatest poems. They had met in Amherst and instantly became very close
friends and they shared many interests. Dickinson trusted Gilbert completely.
There were even some rumors about Dickinson and Gilbert having an intimate
relationship. Dickinson was very upset when Gilbert became engaged to Austin
Dickinson, Emily Dickinson?s brother. Dickinson and Gilbert lost contact for
almost two years after the marriage. When Gilbert and Austin Dickinson moved
next-door to Emily Dickinson, their correspondence started again.
During the later years of her writing career, death had a large impact on
her poems. ?Death is not mere metaphorical for Dickinson: Its the greatest
subject of her work.?(h7) Some of the deaths that affected her where of her
mother, father, favorite nephew, and her best friend Wadsworth. The mourning
over the people that were the closest to her made her more obsessed with death
and that had a great influence on her poetry. ?She approaches death from the
perspective of a grieving onlooker, attempting to continue life and her own
faith.?(h8) Unfortunately, without the deaths, she never would have written the
poems that are so famous and legendary today.
Dickinson?s Puritan upbringings also had a large affect on her poetry.
Some people believe that her religious beliefs had a great influence on her
writings but other people think that her poetry had become her religion. Her
religion gave way to a young adulthood which her poems later in her life had
absorbed. When Dickinson was a child, she attended church on a weekly basis.
?Her poetry plays endless variations on the protestant hymn maters that she
knew from her youthful experiences in church.? (h4) When reading Dickinson?s
poetry about her religion, the reader begins to understand what Dickinson went
through in church as a child. When she was young, she had learned a lot about
the Book of Revalations. Her father was a very religious man who practiced a
Protestant sect that closely followed the tenets of Puritanism, but she was never
able to practice his faith with complete dedication.
?Dickinson?s imagery and metaphors were drawn from an acute
observation of nature.? (e2) One of Dickinson?s favorite things to do was look at
things in nature. Many of her poems include birds, trees, flowers, weather. She
compares the things in nature to things in her own life by taking a subject matter
for her poems and using all the themes of love, death and compassion. Most of
her poems about nature came from her own observations and thoughts. Nature
only had a small affect on her poems, but some of her greatest works came form
When Dickinson was writing her poems, she did not care about politics,
the civil war, or literary works by other people. The years of the civil was did
coincide with the time of her greatest output of over eight hundred poems, but the
war had no impact on her writings because the works came from inside the poet
instead of what was occurring around the outside of the poet. Instead of being
influenced by poets of her own time, Dickinson was influenced by the
?metaphysical poets of the 17th century.? Some of her own favorite poets include
Elizabeth Barrett Browning, John Keets and Walt Whitman. (g4) Her direct,
first-person voice makes a lot of her poetry easily accessible, yet her unusual
word usage?s and approaches to a subject call for reading the poem over again
and sometimes many different and interesting interpretations. Her density and
imaginativeness date back to those Metaphysical, while her play with language
and her psychological and philosophical insights, many quite unusual for the
largely conservative 19th century, brought her a wide audience for her works.
Her work was very original and innovative and it all came from her own mind but
she did draw from her knowledge of the bible, classical myths and Shakespeare
for references to her poetry.
In contrast to many of the writers from her time period, Dickinson had very
minimal experiences with the world, spending almost every day of her life in a
single house. She had a very normal childhood but in her early thirties, she began
to withdrawal from her friends. There were often times much later in her life when
she would only talk to her friends from outside of a door or communicate through
her famous letters. Through this, her poetry still displays a range of perception
and emotion that few poets have had. Dickinson had a very simple life, but her
poems which were partially influenced by it, had a lot of energy. ?Her poems
were written partially about her real life but also about her deep inner life.? (c8)
Whatever she was feeling, pain, love, faith, or joy, her poems showed it.
Dickinson loved to combine vivid personal feelings of her own in her works. Her
confrontation within herself and her own mind are the center for some of her best
Emily Dickinson is a great example of a poet who enjoys writing about her
own experiences and things that are important in her own life. Her main goal in
her poetry was to ?create a creative inner life for herself.?(j2) her poems are all
original and they all have very special meanings. As Dickinson said in the last
line of one of her most famous poems ?Tell the truth, but tell it slant.? (j3)