Emily Dickinson during her lifetime did not publish any of her books. She was not known as a poet not only in America, but also in the neighboring countries. She had lived in obscurity, but in a few years the appearance of her poems in the press became a literary sensation and the small town of Amherst, where she lived, went down in history as the birthplace of Emily Dickinson. She has become a classic of American literature.
Poetic position of Dickinson is rather unusual: her works are devoid of direct historical landmarks, and seemingly don’t respond to the most important events in American history and culture. Her first readers saw Dickinson as a strange and detached personality, but the 20th century greeted her as an artist ahead of her time. There is a deep connection between the poetry of Dickinson and the era in which she lived. Such events of the 19th century in the United States, as the civil war between north and south, the war with Mexico, and the development of national literature and national system of philosophical transcendentalism, had a great influence on the formation of the poet and her work. The poetry was the only way for Dickinson to open the borders of her inner world and thus preserve it.
The works of Emily Dickinson reflect the type of consciousness that has developed under the influence of Puritan spiritual culture. The basis of the Puritan seriousness was Calvinism, a harsh and dogmatic theology, created by Geneva religious reformer John Calvin. Calvinism represents the God as the sovereignty, against the power of which a man in the person of Adam rebelled, breaking a sacred and solemn agreement between them. Calvinism was the dominant theology of New England during the colonial period. Its features marked the poetry of Dickinson. Light, ease, and romantic irony present even in the most profound poems-reflections of Dickinson, so they are not philosophical treatises and sermons, but almost always are a little game.
A great number of poems by Dickinson are directly based on Scripture. She is constantly engaged in the conversation with God, discussing individual scenes of the people of Israel, characters of the heroes, kings and prophets, demonstrating not puritanical judgment.
Topics of other poems are perennial themes of the poetry, like nature, love, life, death, and immortality. These concepts are not an abstraction for her, but something quite real and concrete. There is always the second philosophical plan in her poems that are very short and about everyday life problems.
Emily Dickinson during her lifetime did not publish any of her books. She was not known as a poet not only in America, but also in the neighboring countries. She had lived in obscurity, but in a few years the appearance of her poems in the press became a literary sensation and the small town of Amherst, where she lived, went down in history as the birthplace of Emily Dickinson.