Death as the Recurring Symbol of Dickinson

Question: Death as the Recurring Symbol of Dickinson’s Poetry- Discuss. Or, discuss the symbol of Dickinson’s poetry. Death as the Recurring Symbol of Dickinson


Death is one of the principal subjects or themes in Dickinson’s poetry. She uses the recurring symbol of death in her poetry as it can be learned from the history that during Dickinson’s time there was a high mortality rate of youth and frustration prevailed at that time throughout America. Besides, death is the poetic interest for her to compose poetry.

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Dickinson’s Poetic Insight

Death is the poetic insight of Dickinson’s poems. Every poet has special insight into writing literary works such as William Shakespeare had a lot of practical knowledge. Even many poets have a versatile specialty. Dickinson’s specialty is the concept of death. She has used death as the prime conception in more than 500 poems. So, she has presented death as the recurring or repeated symbols in her poems.

The philosophical aspect of Death

Death is uncertain like a breakdown of a clock. Death has a deep philosophy. Benjamin Franklin has said that two things are true in the world, one is dead, and another is to give tax to the government. So, death is the truth. God has created us and only he knows our death date. Any time can be the last moment of human beings.

Again, she asserts that death is a long sleep without any disturbance. In Christianity, the priest quotes during entomb occasion that my dear friend sleep peacefully in the paradise, later, I will join you. Dickinson was disturbed in his life because of her illicit relationship with his father’s friend. She had to face some obstacles because of her relationship. So, he referred to death again and again in his poem to get a long-term rest without disturbance and to make aware the American people to get out from the nasty activities.

Death makes man accountable and conscious

According to many critics, the human being is responsible for the death. Because they know that death is just behind them and anytime can cover them. In the poem “Because I could not stop for Death”, Dickinson has shown that everyone must be spiritually regenerated. Again in “I felt a Funeral, in my Brain”, she has made conscious the American people that they should not involve in corruption, sexuality, alcoholism, and criminal activities because death is inevitable. If they thought about death, they never could be involved in such kinds of activities.

Death is the Bridge

One medium that is available to connect with God is death. A human being can be united with God through death. Dickinson has told about this bridge in many of her poems even in “I felt a Funeral, in My Brain” and “Because I could not stop for death”. From this conception, we come to know that death is not only a word, not the conclusion of the world, rather it’s a tunnel for resurrection, to connect with god. The poet says:

This World is not Conclusion.

A Species stands beyond –

Invisible, as Music –

But positive, as Sound –

It beckons, and it baffles –

Immortality is not gained without death

If someone wants to be immortal, he must die. Because no one can get everlasting life without death. In the poem “I Taste a Liquor Never Brewed”, the poet shows the ways to become immortal in the materialistic world. Again in “Because I could not stop for Death”, she also shows that death comes to me by a vehicle with immortality which means only death is the only way to get the evergreen or immortal life.


By the end of the discussion, it has been vivid that death is an important and prominent motif of Dickinson’s poetry. No other poet, either America or Britain, has looked upon death in such myriad of light as she has done.

SR Sarker
SR Sarker
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