How does Emily Dickinson's personal life reflect in her poetry? And why can her work cause such an impact on literature?

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Emily Dickinson 's personal life comes through in the themes of her poetry as well as in its style. Common themes of her work include death, grief, nature, love, and introspection. Dickinson grieved the loss of several loved ones, including an aunt who died of tuberculosis. Her perspective went beyond...

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Emily Dickinson's personal life comes through in the themes of her poetry as well as in its style. Common themes of her work include death, grief, nature, love, and introspection. Dickinson grieved the loss of several loved ones, including an aunt who died of tuberculosis. Her perspective went beyond the traditional religious views of the afterlife, as in "Because I could not stop for Death." Although Dickinson attended a religious college for a year, she declined to make a public conversion, as was expected of her.

Dickinson was what might be called a "homebody." She was nearly reclusive, but she associated with her sister, who lived with her, and her sister-in-law, who lived next door, and she took great delight in her garden. Poems like "A bird came down the walk" and "A narrow fellow in the grass" display her love of nature. Since Dickinson's work contains scores of romantic poems, including some that might be considered explicit, many people have speculated about possible affairs she may have had. Although she did have suitors, she never married, and because of her isolated lifestyle, it seems likely that her romantic poems are based on imagination rather than reality.

Dickinson devoted an impressive amount of time to her craft as a poet. Even those closest to her during her life evidently didn't know how many poems she was writing and that she was "self-publishing" them by binding them into fascicles. These packets were found only after her death. As a writer, she had a rich inner world, and many of her poems reflect this philosophical bent. Two examples of her reflective works are "I'm Nobody. Who are you?" and "I never saw the moor."

The impact Dickinson had on modern poetry was profound. Her use of "slant rhyme," her conversational but reflective style, and her idiosyncratic punctuation and capitalization was unusual in her day. When her poems were published and became well known in the twentieth century, they fit in with the modernist style and influenced twentieth-century poets to follow and expand upon her innovations. Though she and Walt Whitman were very different in their styles, they forged a uniquely American voice and style of poetry that lifted American literature into its place among its British and European counterparts.

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