The Theme of Death in Emily Dickinson's Poems
One major theme in Emily Dickinson's poems is death. Here is a look at several Emily Dickinson's poems exploring death with my own analysis and commentary on specific poems.
Emily Dickinson Poems about Death
Poem: "A Death blow is a life blow to some"
- Analysis: A belief in eternal life affects much of Dickinson's death poetry. In "A Death blow is a life blow to some," Dickinson uses paradox to assert that physical death is the beginning, not the end.
- Analysis: Dickinson uses the central image of a tombstone overgrown with weeds to comment on the shortness of life.
- Analysis: Dickinson personifies death as a kind stage coach driver taking its visitor, not to some ghastly abode, but toward eternity with Immortality. Notice the precise description of a grave in the fourth stanza; it's Dickinson at her descriptive best.
- Analysis: Dickinson tries her hand at dramatic poetry with a conversation between Death and Spirit. In this poem, death is a defeated enemy.
- Analysis: Don't let the image of a drowned man floating face up haunt you to the point of missing the paradox in the last four lines: death is an eternal resting place, yet few of us are in a hurry to get there.
- Analysis: Dickinson personifies and employs a list of adjectives to describe death. In this example, Death is once again the enemy, who is time and time again thwarted by the mercy of Christ.
More Emily Dickinson Poems about Death
Poem: "If anybody's friend be dead"
- Analysis: Dickinson comments on the grief experienced by those who have lost loved ones.
- Analysis: Dickinson reverses the roles in "If I should die." She declares that if she dies, life goes on, and she is, therefore, relieved that those left behind will continue to experience life.
- Analysis: Dickinson uses the central image of a grave and the sameness of distance from all graves to the heavens as a metaphor for man's relationship with the Creator.
- Analysis: Dickinson uses irony to describe the living as jealous of one who is dying. Although some may regard the dying woman in the poem as suicidal, the context indicates that the dying woman has been on the brink of death for quite some time and welcomes the end of Earthly pain.
- Analysis: Dickinson's belief that all humans are connected and that when one dies or suffers we all die or suffer is the theme of "Each that we lose takes part of us." She uses the image of the tides, producing an image of the ocean, representing the souls of all flowing in tune with nature.
If you would like step-by-step instructions on how to do a poetry analysis, follow the link. If you're looking for more Emily Dickinson poems, scroll down about two inches.
Emily Dickinson Poetry Study Guide
When I was in high school, my English teacher made us read Emily Dickinson. I loathed it. I'm older now and enjoy Emily Dickinson's poetry. I, however, don't want you to suffer as I did, so I made this Emily Dickinson study guide. You're welcome.