Emily Dickinson's Collected Poems

The Vision of Heaven in Emily Dickinson's Poetry

Emily Dickinson never became a member of the church although she lived in a typical New England Puritan community all her life. The well-known lines, "Some - keep the Sabbath - going to church - / I - keep it - staying at Home -" (P-236 [B]; J-324),1 suggest her defiance against the existing church and Christianity of her time in particular. And her manner of calling the Deity by such terms as "Burglar," "Banker" (P-39; J-49), and "a jealous God" (P-1752; J-1719) clearly discloses her antagonism against the Christian God. In fact, she insistently rejected being baptized even when her family members and intimate friends at Mount Holyoke Female Seminary had chosen to bow in faith before the Christian Lord. It is no exaggeration to say that Dickinson tried to deviate from the orthodox religious belief prevalent in the society she lived in.

Nevertheless, Dickinson was an avid reader of the Bible, and as Fordyce R. Bennett states in the preface to A Reference Guide to the Bible in Emily Dickinson's Poetry, "Dickinson found story and situation, syntax, symbolism and imagery, inspiration, and much more in the King James Bible" (xi). That is to say, no matter how much she felt...

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