The Nature Of Death In Emily Dickinson

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The Nature Of Death In Emily Dickinson’s I’ve Seen A Dying Eye Essay, Research Paper The Nature of Death in Dickinson’s “I’ve Seen A Dying Eye” One of the most fascinating things that I find about Emily Dickinson’s poetry is her overwhelming attention to detail, especially her intriguing insights on death. “I’ve Seen a Dying Eye,” by Dickinson, is a poem about the nature of death. A sense of uncertainty and uncontrollability about death seems to exist in her poem. For example, the observer’s (who is also the speaker) speech seems hesitant and unsure of what he or she is seeing, partly because of the dashes, but also because of the words used to describe the scene. As the eye is observed looking for something, then becoming cloudy and progressing through

more obscurity until it finally comes to rest, the person observing the death cannot provide any definite proof that what the dying person saw was hopeful or disturbing. The dying person seems to have no control over the clouds covering his or her eye, which is frantically searching for something that it can only hope to find before the clouds totally consume it. Death, as an uncontrollable force, seems to sweep over the dying. More importantly, as the poem is from the point of view of the observer, whether the dying person saw anything or not is not as significant as what the observer, and the reader, carry away from the poem. The suspicion of whether the dying person saw anything or had any control over his or her death is what is being played on in the poem. If the dying

person has no control, what kind of power does that give death? Did the eye find what it was looking for before the clouds billowed across their vision, and was it hopeful? These questions represent the main idea the poem tries to convey. Death forces itself upon the dying leaving them no control, and if something hopeful exists to be seen and “lived” after death, it is a question left for the living (including Dickinson) to ponder. The idea that something exists after death is uncertain in this poem. Therefore, it is important that the point of view is that of the observer. The observer sees in the first few lines, “I’ve seen a Dying Eye/Run round and round a Room–/In search of Something–as it seemed–” (ll. 1-3). From the start, the reader assumes the eye is

searching for evidence of an afterlife, but only the dying person knows for what the eye is searching. The reader gets a sense that the observer, who represents the living, knows what the dying eye is looking for, but because the observer is alive, the answer is hidden from his or her eyes. By using the word “seemed,” Dickinson, along with her ever-present dashes, injects an element of doubt in the speaker’s voice as to whether something does exist. As in her other poems concerning the nature death, there is a “journey,” however long or short, that the dying person embarks upon. Even though Death stopped for the speaker in “Because I Could Not Stop For Death”, he or she realizes the carriage ride is not an end. It is important to note that unlike the speaker in

“I’ve Seen A Dying Eye” who also acts as an observer upon the dying person’s “journey,” the speaker in this poem acts as the dying person. The speaker recalls the horses’ position as if they were to keep moving forward toward eternity; thus concluding death is merely a door one passes through to reach another realm of existence. “Since then-’tis Centuries-and yet/ Feels shorter than the Day/ I first surmised the Horses Heads/ Were toward Eternity–” (ll. 21-24). The speaker’s journey with Death shows scenes from the past, “We passed the School, where Children strove”, as well as the future, “The Cornice-in the Ground” (ll. 9, 18). Therefore, the use of Death’s carriage provides an example of Death being the vehicle to transport the body through