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Abstract: Death and eternity1 are the major themes in most of Emily Dickinson’s  poems.“ Because I could not stop for death ”is one of her classic poems.  Through the analysis, this essay clarifies infinite conceptions by the 
dialectical relationship between reality and imagination, the known and 
the unknown. And it tells what’s eternity in Dickson’s eyes. 

Keywords: death, eternity, finite, infinite 


    Emily Dickinson(1830-1886), the American best-known female poet ,was 
one of the foremost authors in American literature. Emily Dickinson ’s 
poems, as well as Walt Whitman’s, were considered as a part of "American 
renaissance"; they were regarded as pioneers of imagism. Both of them rejected 
custom and received wisdom and experimented with poetic2 style. She however 
differs from Whitman in a variety of ways. For one thing, Whitman seems 
to keep his eye on society at large; Dickinson explores the inner life 
of the individual. Whereas Whitman is "national" in his outlook, Dickinson 
is "regional" 

    Emily Dickinson was born in Amherst, Massachusetts, on December 10,1830. 
She lived almost her entire life in the same town (much of it in the same 
house), traveled infrequently, never married, and in her last years never 
left the grounds of her family. So she was called "vestal of Amherst". 
And yet despite this narrow -- some might say -- pathologically constricted-outward 
experience, she was an extremely intelligent, highly sensitive, and deeply 
passionate3 person who throughout her adult life wrote poems (add up to 
around 2000 ) that were startlingly original in both content and technique, 
poems that would profoundly influence several generations of American poets 
and that would win her a secure position as one of the greatest poets that 
America has ever produced. 

   Dickinson’s simply constructed yet intensely felt, acutely intellectual 
writings take as their subject issues vital to humanity: the agonies and 
ecstasies4 of love, sexuality, the unfathomable nature of death, the horrors 
of war, God and religious belief, the importance of humor, and musings 
on the significance of literature, music, and art. 

    Emily Dickinson enjoys the King James Version of the Bible, as well 
as authors such as English WRTERS William Shakespeare, John Milton, Charles 
Dickens, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, George Eliot, and Thomas Carlyle. 
Dickinson’s early style shows the strong influence of William Shakespeare, 
Barrett Browning, Scottish poet Robert Browning, and English poets John 
Keats and George Herbert. And Dickinson read Emerson appreciatively, who 
became a pervasive5 and, in a sense, formative influence over her. As George 
F. Whicher notes, "Her sole function was to test the Transcendentalist 
ethic6 in its application to the inner life". 


1“death” in Emily Dickinson’s poets 

    For as long as history has been recorded and probably for much longer, 
man has always been different idea of his own death. Even those of us who 
have accepted death graciously, have at least in some way, --- feared, 
dreaded7, or attempted to delay its arrival. We have personified death-- 
as an evildoer dressed in all black, its presence swoops8 down upon us and 
chokes the life from us as though it were some street murder with malicious 
intent. But in reality, we know that death is not the chaotic9 grim reaper 
of fairy tales and mythology10. Rather than being a cruel and unfair prankster 
of evil, death is an unavoidable and natural part of life itself. 

    Death and immorality11 is the major theme in the largest portion of Emily 
Dickinson’s poetry. Her preoccupation with these subjects amounted to an 
obsession12 so that about one third of her poems dwell on them. Dickinson’s 
many friends died before her, and the fact that death seemed to occur often 
in the Amherst of the time added to her gloomy meditation13. Dickinson’s 
is not sheer depiction14 of death, but an emphatic15 one of relations between 
life and death, death and love, death and eternity. Death is a must-be-crossed 
bridge. She did not fear it, because the arrival in another world is only 
through the grave and the forgiveness from God is the only way to eternity.


1 eternity Aiwz7     
  • The dull play seemed to last an eternity.这场乏味的剧似乎演个没完没了。
  • Finally,Ying Tai and Shan Bo could be together for all of eternity.英台和山伯终能双宿双飞,永世相随。
2 poetic b2PzT     
  • His poetic idiom is stamped with expressions describing group feeling and thought.他的诗中的措辞往往带有描写群体感情和思想的印记。
  • His poetic novels have gone through three different historical stages.他的诗情小说创作经历了三个不同的历史阶段。
3 passionate rLDxd     
  • He is said to be the most passionate man.据说他是最有激情的人。
  • He is very passionate about the project.他对那个项目非常热心。
4 ecstasies 79e8aad1272f899ef497b3a037130d17     
狂喜( ecstasy的名词复数 ); 出神; 入迷; 迷幻药
  • In such ecstasies that he even controlled his tongue and was silent. 但他闭着嘴,一言不发。
  • We were in ecstasies at the thought of going home. 一想到回家,我们高兴极了。
5 pervasive T3zzH     
  • It is the most pervasive compound on earth.它是地球上最普遍的化合物。
  • The adverse health effects of car exhaust are pervasive and difficult to measure.汽车尾气对人类健康所构成的有害影响是普遍的,并且难以估算。
6 ethic ziGz4     
  • They instilled the work ethic into their children.他们在孩子们的心中注入了职业道德的理念。
  • The connotation of education ethic is rooted in human nature's mobility.教育伦理的内涵根源于人本性的变动性。
7 dreaded XuNzI3     
adj.令人畏惧的;害怕的v.害怕,恐惧,担心( dread的过去式和过去分词)
  • The dreaded moment had finally arrived. 可怕的时刻终于来到了。
  • He dreaded having to spend Christmas in hospital. 他害怕非得在医院过圣诞节不可。 来自《用法词典》
8 swoops 34cb21d205ccf6df9390b85e36d2b05a     
猛扑,突然下降( swoop的名词复数 )
  • He fixes his eyes on the greyish spine of the old wolf as he swoops down. 他两眼死死盯住老狼灰黑的脊背。 来自汉英文学 - 现代散文
  • An owl swoops from the ridge top, noiseless but as flame. 蓦地,山脊上一只夜枭飞扑直下,悄无声响而赫然如一道火光。
9 chaotic rUTyD     
  • Things have been getting chaotic in the office recently.最近办公室的情况越来越乱了。
  • The traffic in the city was chaotic.这城市的交通糟透了。
10 mythology I6zzV     
  • In Greek mythology,Zeus was the ruler of Gods and men.在希腊神话中,宙斯是众神和人类的统治者。
  • He is the hero of Greek mythology.他是希腊民间传说中的英雄。
11 immorality 877727a0158f319a192e0d1770817c46     
n. 不道德, 无道义
  • All the churchmen have preached against immorality. 所有牧师都讲道反对不道德的行为。
  • Where the European sees immorality and lawlessness, strict law rules in reality. 在欧洲人视为不道德和无规则的地方,事实上都盛行着一种严格的规则。 来自英汉非文学 - 家庭、私有制和国家的起源
12 obsession eIdxt     
  • I was suffering from obsession that my career would be ended.那时的我陷入了我的事业有可能就此终止的困扰当中。
  • She would try to forget her obsession with Christopher.她会努力忘记对克里斯托弗的迷恋。
13 meditation yjXyr     
  • This peaceful garden lends itself to meditation.这个恬静的花园适于冥想。
  • I'm sorry to interrupt your meditation.很抱歉,我打断了你的沉思。
14 depiction f490e01c7396351ff1441f8162831f34     
  • Double rhythms, resounding through the lyric depiction and connecting with each other, indicate the thespian place of mankind and the cognition of the writer to this thespian place. 这双重旋律互为表里,表明了人类的某种悲剧性处境以及作家对这种悲剧性处境的感受和认识。
  • A realistic depiction of scenes from everyday domestic life. 日常家居生活的写实画。
15 emphatic 0P1zA     
  • Their reply was too emphatic for anyone to doubt them.他们的回答很坚决,不容有任何人怀疑。
  • He was emphatic about the importance of being punctual.他强调严守时间的重要性。