What is the significance of Nature in Emily Dickinson's poems?Thank you!

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Having had a strict Puritan education, Emily Dickinson was marked by restraint; however, her poetry provided the outlet that her passions craved.  Influenced by the Transcendental and Romantic Movements, Dickinson's passions found their outlet in the wonders of Nature.  She perceived the relationships among all natural things.  One critic wrote that Dickinson

perceived the relationship between a drop of dew and a flood, between a grain of sand and a desert.

Her keen observation of Nature helped Dickinson understand the universality of the human experience.  There was always an universal truth in Nature.  For Dickinson, private emotions, such as unfulfilled love, took on the importance of great and profound events in which Nature is connected.  In her poem "If you were coming in the Fall," for instance, Miss Dickinson writes,

If you were coming in the Fall,/I'd brush the Summer by/With Half a smile, and half a spurn,/As Housewives do, a Fly....

If certain, when this life was out--/That yours and mine, should be//I'd toss it yonder, like a Rind,/And take Eternity.

As a poet influenced by the Romantic Movement, Dickinson also compares the growth and actions of animal life to human development.  Dickinson spent much time observing nature in her garden and from her window, feeling a strong connection with Nature just as Thoreau and Emerson did.  In her poem "A Narrow Fellow in the Grass," the allusion to the serpent of Eden cannot be missed, so, while the poem is about Nature (the snake), the allusions to the serpent of Eden cannot be overlooked--again, the universal experience.  A reclusive person, Emily Dickinson scrutinized the natural world at her feet for the truths that would reveal.

noelle3366's profile pic

noelle3366 | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

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In addition to what was already given as an answer, Emily Dickenson was a shut in. She lived in her bedroom, upstairs, fearing the outside. Perhaps this led to a hightened sense and a love of nature. She would roll up her poems, creating little scrolls tied up by ribbon and fill a basket with them. She would then lower the basket down, using a rope, to children down below. The children would take the poems in exchange for flowers. She would then pull the basket back up to her window.

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