Emily Dickinson's Collected Poems

Of Belief and Longing: A Study of Emily Dickinson College

“Heaven—is what I cannot reach,” wrote Emily Dickinson in one of her many poems. Again and again, we see the same theme in her works. Her time period was one that emphasized the need for women to play a role as specified by the teachings of the Bible. Emily Dickinson’s poetry reflects her deep desire to know God, but not in the way that everyone around her wants her to; she fears the limiting effects Christianity would have on her life and writes of these fears and desires in a way that leaves readers wanting more.

No doubt, her early life spurred the questioning and confusion we see in her poems. Dickinson grew up in a wealthy and affluent household in Amherst, Massachusetts, where she was raised to be a devout and humble Christian woman. Her father, Edward Dickinson, tried to keep her away from any book learning that would taint her Christian education and values. However, this may have spurred a rebellious streak that led her to question those beliefs that her family held dear. The idea of the docile, domestic life that her parents had promised would be her future prompted her withdrawal from society. Aside from doctor visits, Dickinson never left her father’s house and refused most visitors (Meyer). Alone in her room or...

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