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7/17/2019

Major themes of Emily Dickinson's poems.


Dickinson's treatment of death and dying as an obsession forms a small part of her canvas, indeed. She has dealt with many other themes. Death and dying appears to have occupied a small part of her whole canvas as a poet, against the perspective of the variety of her poetic themes. She has dealt with Nature, love, pain and suffering, immortality, God, and Christ, poetry as an art, besides
death.

Dickinson has dealt with the theme of Nature in a novel way. She looks upon the natural objects like the sun, and other celestial bodies, the seasons, especially the spring and summer, the birds and insects, as forming part of Nature. "My Cocoon Tightens, Colours Tease" describes the bursting open of a chrysalis. She invests the phenomenon with a mystic aura, indicating the possible mysterious handling of all affairs great and small, by the Divine Creator. She is fascinated by the beauty of Nature, but her fascination is mixed with an awareness of the innate mystery and strangeness. Some poems depict Nature's decaying or corrupting power.

A major theme of Dickinson is love. Some of her love poems are psychological studies of the repression of sexual desire, some are symbols of physical desire, some others deal with the expectations of
lovers, and still others with the actual meeting of lovers.

Another noteworthy feature of her poetry is her views about the immortality of the soul. She was inclined to believe in immortality but was always troubled by doubts. She regarded immortality as the "flood subject". Her letters and poems continually referred to the problems of faith, the identity of soul, and the reality of God. In some poems Dickinson asserts her firm faith in the immortality of the soul. "Two lengths Has Everyday" logiéally argues that the identity of the soul cannot be lost because it is immortal. "I taste a
Liquor never brewed" describes the earthly vision of the haunting reality of immortality. The vision of immortality is best upheld in the
poem "Behind Me Dips Eternity."

Dickinson also deals with pain and suffering, their nature, their stages, and their effect upon the human soul. Much of the poet's misery, anguish, and despair is revealed through many of her poems. The philosophy of pain, and the analysis of its specific characteristics are found in poems like "I Measure Every Grief I Meet", "After Great Pain a Formal Feeling Comes", "The First Day's Night Had Come", etc.

The theme of God and religion is quite prominent in Dickinson's poetry. She treats God as an intimate kinsman, and calls Him "Jupiter My Father", "Old Neighbour", and sometimes "Papa Above". She frequently talks of faith and God in the most serious language, and hopes of ultimate redemption".

I hope the father in the skies
Will lift his little girl
Over the stile of "Pearl".

Dickinson was preoccupied with the theme of poetic art also. She believed that creative art was painful because it requires great effort. "Essentials Oils Are Wrung", "Dare you see a soul at White Heat?" are some such poems.

Of course, many other themes, besides the ones mentioned above, are found in Dickinson. All of them make her poetry enjoyable.

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