130 years after her death, Emily Dickinson is still considered one of the mothers of American Literature. Far ahead of her time, especially due to societal restrictions on women during the time that she wrote her poetry, Dickinson was one of the first modern American poets and she is now considered one of America’s two preeminent poets of the 19th Century, along with Walt Whitman.
Many characteristics of Dickinson’s poetry have created her fame, among them her ability to display extremes of passion and her adoption of persona. Dickinson’s writing is significant to American Literature for the way that it changed poetry, throwing out all traditional punctuation and form, as well as omitting titles. Her poetry was an emotional and intellectual observation of the life around her, with her love of nature showing through the difficult to understand lines.
There are many ideas about what influenced and inspired Dickinson’s writing including trauma from the loss of loved ones and her life during the civil war. Her writing is well known for capturing how depressing life can be as well as passionate extremes such as love, despair, elation, and dread. However, her interesting observations of life around her through her poetry treated everything as equals, even animals, plants, rocks, and homes. Her use of persona also allowed her to take on the voice of many individuals including child, bride, madwoman, and corpse.
Although Dickinson’s writing never emerged during her life, her poems lived to be discovered and published after her death. The emergence of her poetry in the late 1890s sparked a fascination with her unique writing, leading to her fame as a prime example of modern poetry. All of Dickinson’s work is tightly condensed, following no traditional punctuation, utilizing brief stanzas, and easily recognizable for its distinctive amount of white space. Her longest poem is less than 2 pages long, yet her short poems still display incredibly vivid imagery and enlightening allusions to other notable works such as the Bible, Shakespeare, Dickens, and the Brontes. Dickinson has earned her place in the world as the most widely recognized woman poet and an inspiration of craft and creativity to modern women writers.