Death is only the beginning...

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Since then 't is centuries; but each   
Feels shorter than the day   
I first surmised the horses' heads   
Were toward eternity (Dickinson, lines 17-20)


Emily Dickinson portrayed a darkened tone to most of her writing and accompanied it with themes of death and immortality.  This poem encompasses all of the above when death civily takes our author away.  She visits places she used to go, and sees people she used to know.  But in the end, the afterlife welcomes her into its arms.

The excerpt that I chose was towards the end of the poem.  Since Dickinson spent most of her life as a recluse and in the later years of her life, rarely left the confines of her room, she was very in touch with her emotions, and feelings of depression and saddness.  I feel that the poem relates to her life as a recluse very well.  The first line states that even though centuries have passed, it still only felt like half a day.  This can be in correspondence to the years that she stayed into her house.  She was alone for so long, that eventually, time became unrecognizable.  Sometimes when we're alone for a great deal of time, when we look at our clocks, we tend to wonder where the time went. The reference to the horse's head taking her to the afterlife, can be another way of going towards the bright light at the end of the tunnel.  Personally, I think that a lot of her poetry was based on metaphors of her life.

Added on 2/18/08

In class we continued our discussion on this matter.  I realized that through the metaphor of death and immortality both being in the chariot, that it did have some significance.  Emily Dickinson was reculisive, but just because she chose this pathway, doesn't necessarily make her a depressed psychopath (thanks for clearning that up Dr. Jerz, haha).  By being able to reflect and medidate, she was able to comprise her emotions and convey and understanding of her beliefs through her poetry. People ask why she thought Death was kind?  She didn't view death as a morose, darkened ending to life, but as a spiritual beginning to a new one.  Death and Immortality work together as one in her eyes, and that is why they are both in the same chariot.





Angela Palumbo said:

I have noticed from what we have read this year from Emily Dickinson and what I had to read for previous English classes that Emily Dickinson does indeed stick with the subject of death. I think that it is a curious thing that most of our famous literature figures are cloaked with problems and mystery. Nobody knows who Shakespeare was, Poe was a drunk, many literary figures were on opium and so on.

Maddie Gillespie said:

I think you made an excellent point in relating many of Dickinson's poems to her life. I love the relation you found between the horses heading towards eternity and the light at the end of the tunnel! Your insights are always enlightening.

Ally Hall said:

I didn't really think to compare the days flying by as a comparison to Dickinson's life holed up in her house. But I agree with you, time does seem to fly by, especially for me, when you're by yourself. You can be alone with your own thoughts and devices, and that can be a wonderful thing, especially when you're forced to always be surrounded by people.

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