The works of Emily Dickinson portray some of the most influential and unique poetic techniques that influence modern poetry. The use of unusual poetic techniques conveyed in her works makes her alien to other poets of that time. Though living a life of seclusion and simplicity, she wrote with great passion.
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By questioning life and the nature of death, her poetry provides rich imagery and detail that enables the reader to understand the depth of how her personal life impacted her writing. The internal conflict of contemplating religion brought a series of emotions that caused her mental state to decline. The impact of religious pressures Emily Dickinson endured brought her emotional instability, influencing the inconsistent tone portrayed in her poetry.
Born in Amherst, Massachusetts, Dickinson grew up in a highly-regarded family. Her father – a successful lawyer, member of Congress and the treasurer at Amherst College – served as a prominent figure in the community. As a child Dickinson lost herself in domestic duties: baking, gardening, learning to play the piano and participating in church activities (Emily Dickinson). Growing up she dealt with high religious and educational standards; her father stressed the importance of knowledge and education, and this focus gave her the opportunity to improve her writing. An eager and attentive student she sought out higher education and attended Amherst Academy (1840-47). The education she achieved at Amherst appeared exceptional for women of that time. Because of this extraordinary level of education, her poetry reflects the high-level skills she obtained during those years. Growing up in a Calvinist household also shaped her character and influenced her poetry. Calvinism focuses on the complete sovereignty of God and teaches the idea of predestination, meaning that God has already chosen who will receive salvation.
Observance includes attendance at church worship services each Sunday. Religious revivals that took place during her teen years addressed her Calvinist society’s concern of life after death. Deaths of many friends and relatives prompted questions about her beliefs and resulted in the witnessing of many burials, which later served as powerful imagery in her works. The subtle religious pressure at home and school caused her to feel excluded. She agonized over her relationship with God and decided not to join the church because she wanted to stay true to herself. In the end she stopped attending religious services altogether. Despite her non-religious persona, many of her poems address the issues of faith and doubt, life and death, and suffering and salvation. Her non-participation in public religious affairs increased her social anxieties and depression (Emily Dickinson).
The religious aspects that encompass Some Keep the Sabbath Going to Church depicts the stereotypical Christian normalities. This poem reflects the poet’s perspective of worshipping on her own accord in the comforts of her own home.
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