Poetry of Emily Dickinson

Talk on Emily Dickinson’s Poetry
by: Sri Chinmoy

December 10th was the birthday of Emily Dickinson, the unparalleled American woman poet and the universally celebrated world poet. Emily and her family formed an inseparable and unique reality. Her family’s need was all to her. Her family saw in her reality’s intensity, which is a portion of her future-building, illumining divinity’s fulfilling touch in the heart of humanity.  

Emily’s heart carried her physical consciousness and her vital consciousness to her soul’s world. Her soul, in a sublime yet subtle manner, carried three other members-the body, vital and heart-to the soul’s own source, Immortality-Land. When they returned, the body, vital and heart were convinced of the reality of this divine Immortality-Land.  

Just because the mind was not invited to take the trip either by Emily or by her soul, heart, vital or body, her mind violently refused to believe in the authenticity of Emily’s illumining, fulfilling and immortalising experiences. The mind stood adamant between the finite and the Infinite, between the body and vital and the heart and soul, between the consciously known world and the unconsciously known world. And what is worse, at times the mind was so successful in convincing her, that her previously intoxicating reality-world became nothing more than a visionary hallucination-conception-world in her human life. This formidable and blightful doubt resulted in an indulgence of self-mockery, truth-mockery and world-mockery in her life. Naturally, therefore, her heart’s illumination-sky could not grant her the boon of a free access to her inner vastness and her outer plenitude.  

Emily learned very little from her association with her outer life. But she learned much from her inner association with her world-seclusion. Indeed, the outer world was an experience devoid of integral reality to her. Therefore, what she knew of earth and thought of earth could not become an encouraging, sustaining, inspiring, illumining and fulfilling experience leading to her own existence-reality.

Emily’s love of God and her love of nature made her inwardly beautiful. All her life Emily lived the life of an introvert. A self-imposed seclusion-life she embraced. God’s Compassion-Beauty was her reward. In God’s Compassion-Beauty, her world and those who wanted to live in her world became preparation-instruments for the transformation and perfection of the frustration-experiences of life.

Her aspiration was not only in seclusion, but seclusion itself became her aspiration. Inside seclusion-aspiration she did get a few striking glimpses of the inner illumination-sun. Life’s buffets gave her two or three times intolerable frustration-experiences, which commanded her to dive deep, deeper within to discover the wealth of the inner life.

Obscurity was her name when she was on earth. Only seven poems were published while Mother Earth nourished her. But when Father Heaven started nourishing her, earth lovingly acknowledged Emily’s great achievement and felt considerable pride in her soul-stirring gifts to mankind.  

About eighteen hundred flower-poems formed her entire garland. Some of the petals of the flowers offered by her were childish beauty, while others were childlike duty and still others the mature wisdom of a Christian saint. It was her realisation that the Unknown and the Beyond always remain an uncertain and unknown reality. Just because she felt that it would remain unknown forever, the real Reality-Source could not quench her thirst-reality and satisfy her.  

Some disproportionately foul critic found in her nothing but a lunatic of the superlative degree. If so, why? Is not this world of ours responsible for not being able to give her the heart’s satisfaction which she so richly deserved? Is not the other world responsible for not granting her the life-perfection which she so desperately needed? Her heart-experience says to earth, “Earth, I understand your dilemma. You want and, at the same time, you do not want a transformation-face; a transformation-face, according to you, either is not real or may not satisfy you at all. Therefore, your inner cry is not intense enough, it is not genuine or abiding.”

Earth says to the poet, “You are right, you are right. You are more than right. I wish to tell you that what I have is not satisfying me and what I may get is not satisfying me at all. But I do feel that if, in God’s creation, satisfaction never dawns, then God will have to remain incomplete. To cherish the idea that God is or will remain incomplete leaves my own existence-reality incomplete for all Eternity. Question I have; answer I do not have. But I am sure my patience-life will be inundated by answer-light in the bosom of Eternity’s choice hour.”  

To Heaven, the poet’s life-experience says, “Heaven, if you are really soulful, then you must please me powerfully, too. And if you are really powerful, then you cannot endure a yawning gulf between your own ecstasy-reality and my depression, frustration and destruction-reality. True reality exists in self-expansion founded on illumination-distribution.”  

Heaven says to her soul, “O seeker-poet, you have to dive infinitely deeper. I am not exactly what you have seen of me. I am not in the least what you think of me. I am far beyond your desire-discovery-aspiration. Within your aspiration-discovery-realisation, you will find me, my universality’s oneness.

12 December 1975

 Excerpt from: Philosopher-Thinkers: The Power-Towers Of The Mind And Poet-Seers: The Fragrance-Hours Of The Heart In The West by: Sri Chinmoy

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