The Secluded Life of Emily Dickinson

February 9, 2009 at 3:57 am (Uncategorized)


Emily Elizabeth Dickinson had particular interests that she maintained in her life. In her twenties her days may have consisted of coffee house chats with her close friend and critic Terence Higginson. “I was never with anyone who drained my nerve power so much.” (Higginson). Dickinson was painfully shy and uncomfortable around most people that were not closely related to her. Her seclusion gradually occurred in her late twenties. Even though in Emily’s younger years she didn’t seem as irritated around company as she did in her twenties, she eventually physically secluded herself from the outside world. I think that in her secluded years, she found the happiness and comfort that she needed to write her greatest poetry. It does seem as if she was depressed most of her life but there are times where she had recorded moments of great happiness. She still maintained her love for music, literature, and children. Dickinson ranged from sneaking around corners so she could listen to an admiring pianist, to lowing a basket of baked sweets and poems out her window to little children in her neighborhood. After her death, her sister was instructed to burn her remaining letters. Fortunately she ignored this request and found a box of Emily’s full of 1,700 poems. The places that Dickinson’s mind had taken her when she left society drove her to create the originality in her poetry.

My life closed twice before its close.
It yet remains to see
If immortality unveil
A third event to me,

So huge, so hopeless to conceive
As these that twice befell,
Parting is all we know of heaven,
And all we need of hell.

                  Emily Dickinson





emily_dickinsonm79possibility-emily-dickinson-post1 We can concur that Emily did in fact have a secret lover. She was not only secretive about it, but did not mention his name in her love letters and poetry. Scholors discovered a mysterious letter sent out by Dickinson in 1850. The letter invited someone to “meet me at sunrise, or sunset, or the new moon.”  Scholars were fairly certain that this mysterious lover was George Gould. But I’m not so sure. Emily was already so secretive about her life. There is no way of knowing who it was for sure. Not to mention she wasn’t always the type to play by the rules. I can see her as a hippie of her generation. She was generally uninterested in politics, she found happiness, love, and beauty through nature, and loved music and fine art. Emily was free spirited because she did what she wanted to do to feel comfortable in the world. It is said that when Mabel Loomis Todd, the talented wife of Amherst College astronomer David Todd, was invited to play the piano for Dickinson and her younger sister in 1882, she was warned by their sister-in-law, Susan Dickinson. She implied that the Dickinson sisters “have not, either of them, any idea of morality.” Sue went on to say, “I went in there one day, and in the drawing room I found Emily reclining in the arms of a man.”

That I did always love

That I did always love, 
I bring thee proof: 
That till I loved 
I did not love enough. 
That I shall love alway,       
I offer thee 
That love is life, 
And life hath immortality. 
This, dost thou doubt, sweet? 
Then have I         
Nothing to show 
But Calvary.





  1. blogginforschool said,

    This is a good start. Two comments: 1. You jump in without so much as offering a hint of the extent of Emily’s reclusiveness. 2. You don’t have any real new news here. Any other stories about her reclusiveness?

  2. Blogginforschool said,

    Very interesting!!!

  3. Honorable Mention « The Literature Cafe said,

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