Immortality's Whispers: Transcending the Mortal Coil in “Some things that never could be Death” - Emily Dickinson

American literature essay. Literary analysis of works and characters - Sykalo Evgen 2023

Immortality's Whispers: Transcending the Mortal Coil in “Some things that never could be Death”
Emily Dickinson

Amherst's mysterious Emily Dickinson crafts a tapestry of defiance against death in "Some things that never could be Death." She doesn't just ponder death in this poem; rather, she dismantles it piece by piece, providing hints of a life beyond the confines of the mortal coil.

The Unquenchable Fire

"Some things that never could be Death," the poem's audacious first line, sets the stage for a reinterpretation of the ultimate conclusion. Dickinson is not afraid to point out what is certain, but she counters it right away by saying that some things, some essences, are inherently impervious to forgetting. This first sentence kindles hope by implying that something perseveres and even hints at immortality in the face of bodily death.

The Untouchables' Territories:

Dickinson then uses these "un-deathly" components to create a vivid environment. The "ocean's breast," the "still-falling dew," and the "sun's last rays" are examples of natural occurrences that, despite their transience, are testaments to life's transience. They resist death's finality by existing in an eternal state of becoming.

"The Unbound's Echo":

The poem goes farther, examining the immaterial world. "A spider's web," a "snowdrop's face," and "soundless lightning," despite their transient physical forms, have an unmistakable presence—a whisper of existence that exists outside of space and time. Dickinson serves as a reminder that these connections to the universe and the echoes of our souls are impervious to death.

The Memory's Radiance:

In Dickinson's imagination, memory becomes an effective tool for fending against death. The deepest recesses of forgetfulness can be illuminated by "a song that died within the brain," much like an ember rekindled. Even if they are no longer in this world, the "smile that perished yesterday" and the "kiss that never came" nevertheless have the ability to arouse feelings in us and give us hope even in the face of death.

The Acceptance Paradox:

Dickinson takes a paradoxical stance on immortality. Although she accepts that physical death is inevitable, she also rejoices in the many ways that we are able to transcend it. This acceptance is an active engagement with the world, a promise to leave behind echoes of our presence, whispers of our souls that will reverberate long after we take our last breath, rather than a passive resignation.

Past the Elegy

"Some things that could never be Death" is not an elegy in the conventional sense. It rejoices in life and its enduring echoes rather than dwelling on loss or despair. It is a rebellious cry against the stillness of death and a monument to the ability of the human spirit to create, to love, and to make a lasting mark on the world.

The poem's potency resides in its unique perspective on mortality and vivid imagery. Dickinson asks us to join in the discussion and consider the whispers of immortality that permeate every dewdrop and spider web rather than providing us with concrete solutions. She does this to remind us that, despite our own mortality, we have the ability to leave behind legacies that will glisten for all of eternity.

Further Analysis Points:

Dashes are used throughout the poem to convey a sense of urgency and immediacy, which reflects the speaker's wish to consider death.
Words like "never" and "could," which are used often, highlight the poem's main theme of defiance against death's finality.
Through a variety of interpretive frameworks, including philosophical, religious, and psychological ones, the poem provides deep insights into the experience of mortality in humans.