Let me start off by saying how bad-ass Emily Dickinson truly is.
She was a rebel for her time-period, and harbored nonconformist views for what was expected to be normal (what’s normal, anyways?) for woman of that time. You know, the cookie cutter, doormat, submissive, housewife mold.
Dickinson wasn’t going to have it! She don’t need no man!
She was among the first pioneers for the feminist movement with her very apparent anti-marriage views in a time women were expected to get wifed up and pop out a dozen babies.
She would be what I describe as a punk rock chick of her time. Everyone describes her as gothic because of her writing style, probably picturing her with a black dress with a lace bib or something, and with some crazy 1800’s collar necklace; however, Dickinson actually went through a period in her life where she only would wear white!
Emily you’re such a bad-ass!
And with poems like, “I heard a fly buzz-when I died..”, hello!?, obvious song lyrics! My theory is that if she would be alive today, she’d be one hell of a songwriter.
Here’s some personal responses to a few of her poems.
The Brain is Wider than the Sky
Reminds me of a thought most people have probably had within their life one way or another. The brain, our mind, how does it hold so much information for the size of its exterior? I always imagined the brain being like outer space, being a whole galaxy of memories, information, and other forms of our mental functions. But just like outer space, only the closest areas are reachable, and the unconscious mind is further in the galaxy then we can tangibly reach yet. I like how she describes the brain as being deeper than the sea; I wrote a song with lyrics being, “I want to swim through the depths of your mind”. The mind, like the sea, is still a mystery to man, and there are still depths of the ocean that we haven’t been able to reach yet, much like space. The mind, the depths of the sea, and the endlessness of space may forever be a mystery.
I Died for Beauty – but was Scarce
I see this poem as a kind of protest toward women being told their whole lives that they should be beautiful. The woman saying that she died for beauty, which is pretty bold to say, but what I think she’s getting at is that women go through so much to be viewed as beautiful, there is like ten plus aisles in basically any convenience store dedicated to beauty products alone. It’s a bit unnecessary, but when you get down to the biology of it, we are just trying to attract the opposite sex. In the poem, there is a man in the tomb next to the woman who died for beauty, and he died for the truth. This could be a philosophical approach on mankind itself being that ever since there was a thought process we have questioned everything. Why are we here? What put us here?
The end of the poem closes with the two talking until the moss reaches their lips and covers their names. I believe she’s saying that with both of them dying for mere things, they lost their sense of self by over obsessing these topics. With her dying for beauty, she’s become so invested in being beautiful, it’s much like she’s hiding behind a mask, and no longer knows her true self, because this is all she comes to know. With him dying for the truth, people tend to be convinced of somethings so deeply, just so things can make since in their own mind, even if there is no way they can possibly be true. It’s hard to explain and probably doesn’t make much sense, but basically he was searching for reasons why? Why am I here? And he would search until he found something to ease his questions to why, even believing something obviously not correct to give some relief to those questions in his own mind. The best example I can come up with is really religious people claiming dinosaurs never existed because their existence isn’t mentioned in Genesis and the story of creation. We have fossils as definite proof that dinosaurs really did exist, but that fact alone is dismissed because it doesn’t fit with their beliefs.
I Heard a fly buzz – When I Died…
This poem I find absolutely incredible; as well as, all of Emily Dickinson’s poetry in general. Dickinson has a fascinating way of putting into words thoughts that I have had as a child, either very philosophical outlooks on everyday life or getting into words a feeling I have felt in a moment of my life. This poem in general, is a thought that accompanied a feeling I had as a child. When I was maybe around ten years old, I wondered what it would be like to die, and I imagined an elderly person in a hospital bed, a white room, and the sun is shining through the window displaying the dust flying through the room. When I was a child, I used to sit in front of the window with the sun shining through, and watch the dust particles dance through the air, there was just sometime almost mystical about it, unexplainable with words. Sometimes there would be a fly buzzing in the window. My imagination of the elderly dying and the memory of the flies buzzing in the window is what I imagine when reading this poem. “Between the light – and me”, there is something quite interesting to my visuals of this poem, one is of death, the elderly dying, and of a childhood memory, very much alive.
The Soul Selects her own Society
I see the depiction of this women as the first “Twentieth Century Fox”, and well, the high society woman the Doors sing about in several of their songs. “She’s walking down the street, Blind to every eye she meets”, and “She holds her head so high, Like a statue in the sky”. The lady in Dickinson’s poem shuts herself off from general society and selects her own assuming she’s too good for normal society. She is unmoved by the chariots of people that pause to watch her strut her stuff as she walks by, and she is also unmoved by an Emperor that is trying to attract her. This woman is vain, and don’t expect to get her attention, she’s too good in her own eyes for everybody. This could very well be Dickinson’s depiction of celebrity’s attitudes amongst non-famous people or a royalty’s snotty arrogance.
I’m Wife – I’ve finished that
Probably the first expression of feminism in poetry history. She’s saying she’ll never be defined by a title, especially that of “wife”, which implies that she is “owned” by a man. She says “I’m czar – I’m ‘woman’ now”, with czar meaning ruler or male emperor she’s saying she’s in charge as a woman, she’s a queen and in charge of her own life without a man dictating it. She’s saying don’t label me because of my gender or social norm and position as a woman. I am woman hear me roar! Dickinson stayed true to this poem, because she never was called “wife”, she remained unmarried her whole life.