To compare her dying with passing into “everlasting snow” doesn’t do justice to the death of Emily Dickinson. This great poetess, who left us many poems, is more than that. It’s poetry that is eternal, ageless and written by someone who passed away at a too young age.
About Dying! Dying in the night
There is no secret, that we are great admirers of the work of Dickinson. This poetess left the world a legacy of beautiful poetry. Let’s shed some light on the poem Dying! Dying in the night – poem 158.
We should really thank Emily’s sister, Lavinia, for the chance we nowadays have to read her work. Her older sister ordered Lavinia to burn all of her work, after she was dead. She didn’t burn it all. She kept it.
Poem 158 is commonly known as Dying! Dying in the night. Here we read about a poetess, who will die and pass into the everlasting snow. Snow was her way to refer to purity, virtue, the white pages in poetry and something angelic or heavenly.
Instead of finding some peace at the last moments (or beyond those moments), the poetess asks where Jesus is. Is it possible, that she would be forgotten? Or is it because of others, who prevent him from coming to her house?
Finally, footsteps. This isn’t Jesus, but Dollie. Someone else than Jesus, but with the same effect, one may say. But, there is need to shout for this Dollie. Just like we are witnessing a crime scene, where a doctor of maybe even a clergyman wants to pass the crowd, that is gathered around the crime scene. Is this perhaps an unnatural death?
The poem that Dickinson wrote is an answer to the poem The tiger, written by William Blake (1757 – 1827).
The TygerBy William BlakeTyger Tyger, burning bright,In the forests of the night;What immortal hand or eye,Could frame thy fearful symmetry?In what distant deeps or skies.Burnt the fire of thine eyes?On what wings dare he aspire?What the hand, dare seize the fire?And what shoulder, & what art,Could twist the sinews of thy heart?And when thy heart began to beat,What dread hand? & what dread feet?What the hammer? what the chain,In what furnace was thy brain?What the anvil? what dread grasp,Dare its deadly terrors clasp!When the stars threw down their spearsAnd water’d heaven with their tears:Did he smile his work to see?Did he who made the Lamb make thee?Tyger Tyger burning bright,In the forests of the night:What immortal hand or eye,Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
The similarity between the poems, well it’s just amazing!
Dying! Dying in the night
By Emily Dickinson
Dying! Dying in the night!
Won’t somebody bring the light
So I can see which way to go
Into the everlasting snow?
And “Jesus”! Where is Jesus gone?
They said that Jesus — always came —
Perhaps he doesn’t know the House —
This way, Jesus, Let him pass!
Somebody run to the great gate
And see if Dollie’s coming! Wait!
I hear her feet upon the stair!
Death won’t hurt — now Dollie’s here!