Mysticism of Emily Dickinson

Question: Comment on Dickinson’s Mysticism. Mysticism of Emily Dickinson


Mysticism is the belief that union with the absorption into the deity or the absolute or the spiritual apprehension knowledge inaccessible to the intellect. According to the Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary, Mysticism is the belief that the knowledge of god and real truth can be found through prayer and meditation, rather than through reason and the senses.

Dickinson as a Mystic Poet

Emily Dickinson [1830-1886] is famous for mysticism. She uses mystic elements to a large extent. Her poems are based on the spiritual development of thought and profound knowledge. Dickinson’s mystic elements with the reference of her poems are given below:

Dickinson’s mystic view on love

Dickinson’s mystic view on love has been expressed in a superb way in the following lines:

‘Unable are the loved to die.

For love is immortality.’

These lines reveal that man must die with love and only love can make a man immortal because love is immortal itself. Love is eternal in this world that presides over the human heart.

Dickinson gives priority to spiritual or mystic love than sensational love. In the poem, “Wild Nights Wild Nights”, Dickinson refers to her lover as “thee” but who is thee is obscure. She anticipates;

Rowing in Eden-

Ah- the sea!

Might I but moor- tonight-

In thee!

Dickinson relates that passing a night with her lover is luxurious and she wants to row by boat with her lover in the sea of Eden. Here rowing by boat in the sea of Eden reveals mysticism. Passing a night with her lover was normal and sensational love but rowing by boat in the sea exposes spiritual or mystic love.

Mystic attitude to death

The poet writes more than 1800 poems. According to critics, Dickinson’s 500 poems are based on the theme of “death”. She represents death as a mystic element. The poem “I Felt a Funeral in my Brain” is a luminous example of the mysticism of death. She remarks;

“I felt a funeral in my brain

And mourners to and fro

Kept treading- treading-till it’s seemed

That sense was breaking through”

She feels funeral in her brain. She gives the whole description after death in meditation. Throughout the poem, Dickinson unlocks spiritual development through death. From a surface level, it is a poem dealing with sufferings and pains but from a deeper level, it reveals the spiritual development and mysticism of death. In the poem “Because I Could not Stop for Death”, She opens the poem declaring mysticism,

Because I could not stop for death-

He kindly stopped for me-

The carriage held by just ourselves-

And immortality.

Dickinson in these lines declares about the journey of death. It is a spiritual journey, the journey of the soul. It’s impossible to think but this journey is possible from a Psychological point of view.

Mystic Viewpoint to Nature

Dickinson writes poems based on nature. So, romantic elements like high imagination, subjectivity, and description of nature are found. But through nature, she shows the existence of god-like the pantheist. “I Taste a Liquor Never Brewed” is a nature-based poem that reveals mysticism loving nature. Nature is simple from outward but inwardly it creates a connection with god. She finds God’s existence. The symbols of the poem are the sun, wind, seraph, or angel. These are the symbol of mysticism because through these elements she tries to make a relationship with God.

Mystic Attitude to Immortality

A human being is mortal, but he can attain immortality after his death. Death helps a man to be free. “Because I Could not Stop for Death” is a poem of immortality. The first four lines expose that we are roaming with death and death is our ever companion. According to Dickinson, without death, immortality cannot be gained. Her mystic attitude is clear from this speech. The last four lines of the poem provide the notes of immortality and eternity-

Tis centuries- and yet

Feels shorter than the day

I first surmised the Horses heads

Were toward eternity.

After death, a man gets relief from prison (body or physical structure) and starts his journey to immortality.

Firm mystic Belief in the immortality of the soul

Man dies physically but his soul remains alive. After physical death, his soul becomes free and starts a new journey. Dickinson believes that there is another world after death where there are no pains and sufferings. She refers;

This World is not Conclusion.

A Species stands beyond –

Invisible, as Music –

But positive, as Sound –

It beckons, and it baffles –

She asserts here in this poem that music cannot be seen but we can feel in our heart. Like music, the soul is invisible, and the journey of the soul can never be seen. Here the mysticism is revealed vividly.


To Conclude, Dickinson is a mysterious person. So, her poems also sketch mysticism perfectly.

Click here; For more notes on American Poetry

SR Sarker
SR Sarker
Articles: 380

Leave a Reply