Emily Dickinson and Her Poetry
Emily Dickinson was a famous poet who wrote about the concepts she knew. Common themes or ideas found throughout her poems include, religion, life, death, nature, love and purpose. Purpose and self awareness is a common theme found in her poems, they explore finding who you are and why you’re here. The symbol for purpose is an arrow and that is why it can be concluded that Emily is her own arrow searching for her purpose, while her life is her bow. It is her bow because while some obstacles that she faced may have pulled her back, in the end it is what pushed her forward in life. Based on Richard B. Sewell’s understanding of Emily Dickinson in his biography, The Life of Emily Dickinson, it can be concluded that a reason her poetry is still alive today is because of her ability to portray in her writing the idea of one's purpose; Emily is an example of an arrow while her life is her bow.
Dickinson's poetry goes to great lengths to pull many messages across, including that even if the world around is falling to pieces a strong foundation will push you through. Her poem, “On a Columnar Self”, explores the idea of supporting yourself. Like a column if you have a strong foundation you will stand tall and persevere through anything, this will help one grow so they can find the purpose within them. Emily writes in this poem, “That Lever cannot pry— / And Wedge cannot divide / Conviction—That Granitic Base—” (lines 5-7), this strong “Granitic Base” it refers to is all about having a strong foundation in which you live your life. If it is maintained and kept strong then there isn’t anything that can’t be done because the basis to push through is there. The poem continues on and says:
Suffice Us—for a Crowd—
And that Assembly—not far off
From furthest Spirit—God— (lines 8-12).
This is saying that even if you have a strong base, there is more support. This support comes from doing the right thing, which is what “Rectitude” is, morally correct behavior or righteousness. By doing the right thing, you feel as if you have support from everyone else and God. This relates to the theme of purpose because if you’re enough to please yourself then that is enough to gather support from others.
The soul within someone holds all the power to push limits and boundaries to create a reality of the wanted identity and become who you want to become. This is the message Dickinson's poem, “The Soul selects her own Society”, aims to convey to her audience. This poem is written to address the power that the soul has, Emily writes, “The Soul selects her own Society— / Then—shuts the Door—” (lines 1-2). Firstly it can be noticed that Dickinson is personifying the Soul as “her”, by personifying it, it is giving it human characteristics which becomes important when breaking the poem apart. That is why it can be concluded that the Soul is pushing these boundaries and she is starting to turn the desired identity into a reality. This poem gives off the idea that almost nothing is as important as one's self. Nothing seems to capture the Souls attention as its only focus seems to be itself, this can be gathered from where Dickinson wrote:
Unmoved—she notes the Chariots—pausing—
At her low gate—
Unmoved— an Emperor be kneeling
Upon her mat— (lines 5-8)
It can be seen that nothing is drawing the Souls attention away from itself, Emily even writes later on, “Then— close the Valves of her attention like / Stone—” (lines 11-12). This goes to say that you should never lose sight of yourself as that is the most important thing in life, knowing who you are and what your purpose is, this is something one shouldn't forget.
Anonymity is also a desire, to instead stay a nobody rather than become somebody. Dickinson’s poem, “I’m Nobody! Who are you?”, appears to be all about anonymity or just being ordinary. The poet goes to write, “How dreary— to be— Somebody!” (line 5), she appears to find it much more preferable to be nobody but herself. This doesn’t mean that you don’t have a purpose, you just don’t need to be known by everyone or prominent to have a purpose. Dickinson also writes, “Don’t tell! they’d advertise— you know!” (line 4). She wrote this line to follow one that talks about her meeting another “Nobody”. They don’t want to be shown off and broadcasted to the rest of the world. They are both content with being who they are, nobodies. To connect the idea of being a nobody to the overall common theme of these poems, one must realize they connect by being different. They all connect because each poem has its own purpose, they are each getting across their own messages. The messages of standing strong with yourself, finding yourself and focusing on it, and the idea that you don’t need to be anyone to be yourself. These poems all have different themes that connect to one larger idea.
In conclusion, Emily Dickinson’s writing can still have people relating to her poems in these modern times. Her poetry explores finding yourself and your purpose in life and how you shouldn’t feel destined to be somebody to be You. The arrow that is being used to represent her is also a symbol for purpose, the bow is her life and the obstacles that she faces within it; sometimes things held her back but if she hadn’t faced any of the obstacles that she had, then she wouldn't have had any momentum to go forward or succeed in life. This is why having a strong base/foundation is important, it helps face the obstacles life throws at you so you are able to keep moving forward. Life isn’t easy, obstacles are constantly being thrown at you, these are what will help you succeed in the end though. Finding yourself and your purpose are some of the obstacles you’re faced with in life. It is all about the journey you take to finding yourself and finding what your reason to be here is.