“Saying nothing...sometimes says the most.” - Emily Dickinson
Like many writers of her day, Emily Dickinson was a virtual unknown during her lifetime. After her death, however, when people discovered the incredible amount of poetry that she had written, Dickinson became celebrated as one of America’s greatest poets.
Dickinson was notoriously introverted and mostly lived as a recluse, carrying out her friendships almost entirely by written letters. Her work was just as unique; her poetry is written with short lines, occasionally lacked titles, and often used slant rhyme and unconventional capitalization and punctuation. Only a few of her poems were published in her lifetime, but children across the country read her work today.
As a result, Dickinson is, even to those who have studied her the most, an enigma and, even more to the point, a contradiction. Born in an era when women rarely received more than a rudimentary education, she attended college but left before graduating. Considered by many evangelical Christians to be a pioneer of religious poetry, she struggled during her entire life to fully embrace the Calvinist doctrines taught in her New England home. She embraced the friendship of women, sometimes to a level that bordered on the obsessive, but then easily removed herself from physical contact with all but a few of her closest family members. She seemed to be, in every way, the quintessential Victorian spinster, but her poetry and letters reveal shocking passions, often shared with married men.
Not surprisingly, her poetry was just as diverse as her personal life, as she praised romantic love but criticized marriage. She wrote stanza after stanza of verse based on religious themes but never quite presented a clear cut view of the Christian faith. She produced in the same year passionate, even sexually charged verses, and also stilted observations of natural science. But in the midst of all this, she created a new genre of poetry, one that allowed her to speak her mind but in such a way that she could still move about, to the extent she wanted to, in polite society.
Emily Dickinson: The Life and Legacy of the Famous American Poet looks at the reclusive life and remarkable work of the poet. You will learn about Emily Dickinson like never before.