Emily Dickinson Poems (1/2)

I chose this song, Silhouettes by Of Monsters and Men, for Emily Dickinson mostly because of the repetition of the line “I’m already there” and “I will be there too.” It reminded me to the line in J. 324 where she is talking about finding God in nature rather than in church and says, “So instead of getting to Heaven, at last– / I’m going, all along.”

In this poem, Emily Dickinson seems to be criticizing religion and the church. She states that while many will go to church on the Sabbath, she’ll be staying home. At first it isn’t completely clear what she means by “home,” but as the poem continues, it becomes obvious that she is referring to nature as her home. Like many of the transcendentalists, Dickinson believes that it’s better to find the divine in nature because you only have to rely on yourself to find happiness instead of listening to a priest. ¬†She uses the birds in the first stanza as a metaphor for the singing of a choir in a church, and says how she would prefer to listen to the birds. I found the bird imagery especially interesting when I got to the second stanza where she says, “I just wear my wings–” I didn’t know what it meant at first, but it could be interpreted as being another nod at nature, but it’s important that she uses a bird because it can fly. The flying must be how she’ll get to Heaven. The wings emphasize the fact that the narrator has been ready “all along.”

The bird metaphor could also be applied to the church bell ringing, though the narrator would rather hear the chirping of the bird, God’s own creation, than the bells. Then in the fourth stanza she criticizes the long sermons from the clergyman. All of this leads up to her final statement about going to Heaven all along. Dickinson is confident that because she found the divine in nature which is closer to God, she is guaranteed into Heaven. This theme of nature appears in several of her other poems as well.

A few pages later, poem J. 441 also deals with nature. In small groups, we referred to the poem as Dickinson’s ode to nature. It seems as though Dickinson wants to share the message and beauty of nature with the world who has given her nothing back. Perhaps she feels insignificant in society, and so she could online confide in nature and then wants to share what it has told her. And for what she says, she hopes nobody will judge her.

Though perhaps this could also be interpreted another way. It seems like Dickinson is almost writing a disclaimer here for people who will read her poetry in the future. Her plea, “Judge tenderly–of Me,” sounds almost like an apology for her words, which goes to show how people of the time thought about nature. It’s also interesting that she capitalizes words such as “Me,” “Message,” “Her,” and “Sweet” which aren’t words that would typically be capitalized in poetry. What is she trying to convey by doing this? I’m not sure.

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