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Emily Dickinson(1830-1886). -Ali Pourmaleki and David Eaton.

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emily dickinson 1830 1886

Emily Dickinson(1830-1886)

-Ali Pourmaleki and David Eaton

"If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can warm me I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry. These are the only way I know it. Is there any other way?”-Emily Dickinson

early childhood and family
Early Childhood and Family
  • Emily, the middle child of Edward andEmily Norcross Dickinson, was born December 10, 1830 in Amherst, Massachusetts.
  • Born into a prominent family.
  • Had one brother and sister.
  • Her father wanted his children to be well educated. Dickinson studied at Amherst Academy for seven years of her youth. She started school on September 7, 1840 with her sister Lavinia.
  • She described her father in a kind manner but considered her mother cold. Father was often away on business.
  • Family was forced to move due to financial problem. The new house father bought overlooked Amherst burial ground. It was described as gloomy.

Dickinson Children- Emily on left

Dickinson’s house on North Pleasant Street in Amherst.

dickinson s family
Dickinson’s Family





Mount Holyoke

Amherst College

influences in poetry from youth
Influences in Poetry from Youth
  • Experienced some hardship during childhood.
  • Deaths of friends and relatives, including her young cousin Sophia Holland, prompted questions about deathand immortality.
  • “It seemed to me I should die too if I could not be permitted to watch over her or even look at her face."
teenage years
Teenage Years
  • She was introverted.
  • Took classes in English and classical literature, Latin, botany, geology, and arithmetic.
  • Attended church during a religious revival that took place in Amherst in 1845.
  • "I never enjoyed such perfect peace and happiness as the short time in which I felt I had found my savior.“
  • Dickinson never made a formal declaration of faith and attended services regularly for only a few years.
  • Briefly attended Mount Holyoke College in 1847 after her final term at the Academy.
adulthood and poetry life
Adulthood and Poetry Life
  • Her writing became more important to her in her early twenties.
  • "Amherst is alive with fun this winter ... Oh, a very great town this is!“- Dickinson 1850. This enthusiastic mood ended after Leonard Humphrey, a close friend, died.
  • She and her sister both never got married.
  • Started writing her own poems in the summer of 1858.
  • In 1858 Dickinson wrote to a friend and said that she would visit if she could leave "home, or mother. I do not go out at all, lest father will come and miss me, or miss some little act, which I might forget, should I run away – Mother is much as usual. I Know not what to hope of her".
  • From 1858-1865, she wrote nearly 800 poems.
  • The first half of the 1860s was her most productive writing period.
  • Much of her work didn’t become popular until after her death.
  • In 1864 and 1865, she underwent eye treatment for iritis.


Letter concerning Leonard Humphrey’s Death

later life decline and death
Later life, decline, and death
  • Started writing less and less poems throughout the early 1870s due to much personal loss. Her father died in 1874. Her mother died in 1875. Nephew Gib died at age eight in 1883.
  • Continued to write in her last years, but stopped editing and organizing her poems.
  • Died on May 15, 1886 from Bright’s Disease after several days of worsening symptoms.
additional influences on writing
Additional influences on writing
  • Benjamin Franklin Newton was one influence. She referred to him as her tutor.He introduced her to William Wordsworth’s and Ralph Waldo Emerson’s writings.
  • She was also influenced by popular work, such as William Shakespeare’s.
poetic style
Poetic Style
  • Her poetry was unique, often containing short lines, slant rhyme, and lacking titles.
  • Used many dashes and included unconventional capitalization and idiosyncratic vocabulary.
  • Pre-1861: Conventional and sentimental in nature. Thomas H. Johnson, who later published The Poems of Emily Dickinson, was able to date only five of Dickinson's poems before 1858.
  • 1861–1865:This was her most creative period. These poems are more emotional. It is estimated that she composed 86 poems in 1861, 366 in 1862, 141 in 1863, and 174 in 1864. Theme of death began to take shape during this period.
  • Post-1866: Began writing less poetry and she no longer organized it.
common themes
Common Themes
  • Death and immortality
  • "The Crisis of the sorrow of so many years is all that tires me." 
  • Fascinated with illness and death.
  • Flowers and gardens
  • The flowers are symbolic of emotions and actions.
  • Gospel
  • Some of her poems reflect Jesus and his teachings.

What is the significance of the character of death in the poem “Because I Could not Stop for Death”?


What is the significance of the fly?

I heard a fly buzz when I died;      The stillness round my formWas like the stillness in the air      Between the heaves of storm.

The eyes beside had wrung them dry,      And breaths were gathering sureFor that last onset, when the king      Be witnessed in his power.

I willed my keepsakes, signed away      What portion of me ICould make assignable,-and then      There interposed a fly,

With blue, uncertain, stumbling buzz,      Between the light and me;And then the windows failed, and then      I could not see to see.



Why does Dickinson compare hope to a bird?

Hope is the thing with feathers That perches in the soul, And sings the tune--without the words, And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard; And sore must be the storm That could abash the little bird That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillestland, And on the strangest sea; Yet, never, in extremity, It asked a crumb of me.