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7/17/2019

An essay on Emily Dickinson's mysticism in her poems.




Emily Dickinson is obviously a mystic poet. The themes that a mystic poet deals with are concerning God, soul, immortality, union of the human soul with the Divine. Emily Dickinson deals with all these themes in a good number of poems. But before we determine her as a mystic poet, we should define mysticism first, and in the light of the definition we should decide about Dickinson's mysticism.

Different religions define mysticism, or have ideas of mysticism in different ways. We cannot go into details of them all. However, The Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary defines mysticism as,
"The belief that knowledge of God and real truth can be found through prayer and meditation, rather than through reason and through the senses". But many thinkers look upon mysticism in different ways.

But Dickinson's mysticism conceptions. It is a unique form. Dickinson has apprehension conforms to none of their presence of God in Nature. She ponders on the questions of life and death on the nature of the human soul, and the existence of soul after bodily death, and soul's relations with Nature and God. She believes in the immortality of soul, and its very existence before the birth of a person in the bodily form. We can have a clear idea of her mystic conception from her attitude to God, death, and immortality of soul.

Her views about God are expressed in a good number of poems. She often talks about divine love in terms of sexual love. She believes that the entire universe overflows with love and beauty, and that this love and beauty are but a reflection of the Divine whose attributes they are. Divine love is the culmination of all spiritual attainments, and marriage with Christ is the only means of attaining eternity and immortality.

Death is the gateway to the Divine and to immortality, and hence death is to be welcomed rather than shunned. At every step we find Dickinson probing into the mystery of death.

So, it is evident that Dickinson is a mystic poet with her views on soul, soul's relation with God, and death as a gateway to union with God.

"I taste a Liquor never brewed" employs a symbol of wine that has never been brewed. Through such a wine she wants to achieve the stature of an immensely big celestial being to whom even the sum is a lamp-post. Her stature is then admired by the seraphs and saints. This aspiration to rise to gigantic spiritual stature sounds one of her notes of mysticism.

Her attitude to death is mystical. She believes that immortality of soul can be achieved through dissolution, decay and death of the body. Death is a kind of life which is new, and life as it is lived here is a sort of death,
Her attitude to Nature is also mystical. She indicates that the
external objects of Nature do not constitute the knowledge of Nature's mysteries. She deals with the natural objects like the sun and other celestial bodies, the seasons, especially spring and summer, and the birds and the insects as forming part of Nature.

Dickinson has mystical attitude to immortality. The poem "Behind Me Dips Eternity" deals with her notion of immortality. She looks towards the cast as the source of light and life, and towards the west as the soul's ultimate destination, and fixes her attention on the dark span in between. Over the horizon dips eternity, and in front looms immortality.

Dickinson is thus seen clearly as a mystic poet, in her attitude to Nature, her relationship with God, and her conception of eternity and immortality of soul.

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