Theme of death in poetry
Death is a subject not many authors would like to talk about. However, death is one of the gripping themes among poets and authors often avoided by many people causing fear and negative reaction. Ordinarily, many authors avoid the theme death or any circumstance that can lead to death. However, in poetry death provides a wide spectrum of ideas that can be used to present a persuasive message to the audience without causing fear. The theme death is commonly used by many poets like, Emily Dickinson and Sylvia Plath. The two poets examine death from different perspectives. For Sylvia Plath, death is evil and intimidating, while Dickson views death more like an endearment of a romantic journey.
There are many similarities as well as differences between Emily Dickinson and Sylvia Plath representation of the theme death. Sylvia’s poetry elaborates the concept of death, death is her major focus; she documents her life journey that includes death. She shares her experience, especially when she attempted suicide. For Plath, death represents horror because it destroys the mind and life in the body. Plath believed that death takes away people’s emotion and feeling, therefore, death dehumanizes us and kill human identity. Plath describes death as a painful experience which is evident in the poems Edge” and “I Am Vertical” where she describes those who chose death as vulnerable individuals who lack protection from society.
Emily Dickson views death from a different angle, despite touching on the idea of suicide. Dickson does not view death as suffering; Emily views death as the desire for people to get the chance to live eternal life. Death for Dickson is an ordinary theme. She mentions death frequently in her poem alongside frustration, pain, suffering, grief and loneliness. Most of Dickinson’s poetry presents the dark side of death from all aspects. She highlights death as courtly lovers, as a corruptor, the dreadful killer, and also a free agent. Dickson not only analyzes death from different perspectives, but she also describes life after death. She experienced death daily because, for her, death is horrible, full of uncertainties and doubts about life.
Religion greatly influenced Dickson’s view of death; this explains her preoccupation with death. Her notion of God, eternal life and immortality are mainly responsible for her interest in the subject. According to Dickson, immortality is a problem to be faced just like death, but it is not an extension of death itself. Dickson believed that death is a fact that causes tension and conflict among humans. In one of her poems, she describes death as being gentle at times, or at times being a menace, but it is inevitable. Dickson mentions, “I heard a Fly buzz when I died “as she explores the physical process of dying. She further states that “since I could not stop death” as a way of personifying death. She simply presents dying as a realization that there is indeed eternal life.
Since death is unknowable, Dickson goes around it, painting its many facets using descriptive language, making readers come close to knowing it from her viewpoint. Dickson highlights a variety of experience of death, examining the sensations of dying the response of other people in the process of dying, the struggle of the people dying including his body and the adjustment people make after one dies. She further reviews the final journey of someone who dies. Many view Dickson’s poetry to have a strange fascination with death. She even imagined herself dead and mourners walking past her dead body. However, both poets present their personal perspective about death.