Emily Dickinson (1830 – 1886) was one of Amy Lowell’s poetical models. She was born in Amherst, a small town in
, into an old family of New England Puritans. She did not become a professing Christian, as would have been expected of her (si aspettavano) by her teachers and her Calvinist family, and this was the beginning of her sceptical turn of mind (cambio di mentalità). When Emily Dickinson returned to Amherst after her studies, she lived more and more as a recluse: she lived in her home and garden, refused to have any contacts with visitors, dressed entirely in white, and started writing, trying to express some of her passionate feelings through letters and poetry.
Of her more than 1,700 poems only seven are known to have been published during her lifetime. After her death appeared Poems by Emily Dickinson – First Series (1890), and further (ulteriori) volumes were brought to light during the years until the Complete Edition of the Poems (1955) which marked her worldwide (mondiale) fame and reputation.
Emily Dickinson was concerned (preoccupata) with universals, thus the two great sources (fonti) of her inspiration were the Bible and the phenomena of nature. Some of her poems start from minute observations of animals, plants, light, to move on to deeper subjects, to the eternal and the divine. Others are about love, pain (dolore), God, and they reflect both a rebellion against conventional religion, morality and prudery, and the influence of her Puritan heritage (eredità), which can be felt when she turns to metaphysical questions such as renunciation, guilt (colpa) and death. Her outlook (visione) remains dualistic in the sense that it juxtaposes the abstract with the concrete, the trivial (banale) with the sublime, reverence with satire.
In her poems Dickinson employed a complex and unusual syntax, sharp (acute, veloci) images, paradoxes a different rhyming schemes (schemi di rima) which helped to create a new sense of the richness with which the language can be used.
I died for beauty
I died for beauty – but was scarce (difficile)
Adjusted in the Tomb
When One who died for Truth, was lain(sistemata)
In an adjoining Room –
He questioned softly why I failed? ( ho fallito)
“For Beauty”, I replied –
“And for Truth – The two are One –
We Brethren are”, He said – (brothers)
And so, as Kinsmen met a Night – (parenti)
We talked between the Rooms –
Until the Moss had reached our lips – (muschio)
And covered up – our names –
(Poems by Emily Dickinson, First Series, 1890, no. 71)