Published:  02:23 AM, 15 June 2024

Spending Eid Holidays With Verses, Epicureanism and Joy

Spending Eid Holidays With Verses, Epicureanism and Joy
Emily Dickinson (1830—1886) flourished in America when the American Age of Enlightenment and American Romantic Upsurge coincided with a great deal of identical values and norms. While American romantic litterateurs like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau glorified the brilliance and splendor of life and nature, Emily Dickinson exercised most of her poetic prowess on portrayal of death. Depicting the image of death again and again by Emily Dickinson remarkably contradicted with the rosy and flavorsome angles of life illustrated by her contemporary romantic poets in America. Let’s take a look at one poem by Emily Dickinson.

“I felt a Funeral, in my Brain,
And Mourners to and fro
Kept treading - treading - till it seemed
That Sense was breaking through -
And when they all were seated,
A Service, like a Drum -
Kept beating - beating - till I thought
My mind was going numb.”

In the lines cited above, Emily Dickinson envisions what would happen when she would die. She visualized a funeral and a march by mourners carrying her corpse to the graveyard. The grim sketch of death through this poem makes the readers think about their own demise and casts a veil of sadness on our thoughts. In another poem, Emily Dickinson wrote the lines quoted below.

I died for Beauty – but was scarce
Adjusted in the Tomb
When One who died for Truth was lain
In an adjoining Room –

He questioned softly ‘Why I failed’?
‘For Beauty’, I replied –
‘And I – for Truth – Themselves are one –
We Brethren are’, He said.

And so, as Kinsmen, met a Night –
We talked between the Rooms –
Until the Moss had reached our lips –
And covered up – our names.

Emily Dickinson presented together two universal things in this poem—truth and beauty-- which are larger than life and for which death has been embraced by millions of people through ages. The conversation described in this poem between two dead people inside their graves remind us of metempsychosis—the transmigration of souls beyond the peripheries of death and time. Simultaneously, this poem puts forward Emily Dickinson to the readers in a notably dualistic light.

Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672) is viewed by most of the scholars as the pioneer of American poetry. Being a woman, Anne Bradstreet did a massive job by becoming a female poet in America during 17th century when the founding fathers of America like Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield and William Bradford wholeheartedly intended to transform New England into a theocratic state in light of Biblical edification. It needs to be added that, during the initial days of American civilization in 17th century, the European immigrants on the soil of America used to call it New England. Therefore, pre-independence American prose and poetry are still known as New England literature.

Anne Dudley Bradstreet was a self-schooled woman. She had never been to any academic institution. However, she gathered a broad range of learning from her father Thomas Dudley, who was an avid reader. While Anne Bradstreet was a young girl, she loved to read works by Homer, Seneca, Virgil, Plutarch, John Milton and some more eminent litterateurs. In 1628 Anne Bradstreet got married to Simon Bradstreet, who used to assist her father with office work. She remained in wedlock with him until her death on 16th September 1672. Anne Bradstreet immigrated to New England with her husband and parents in 1630 like many other Europeans who migrated there and civilized present day America. In 1633 the first of her children, Samuel, was born and her seven other children were born between 1635 and 1652.

After a strenuous three-month long sea voyage, their ship Arbella reached Salem, Massachusetts on 22nd July 1630. Bedraggled by the sickness, lack of food and poor living conditions of Massachusetts Bay Colony, Anne Bradstreet expressed her anguish in some of her poems about the inhospitable plight of the colony. However, later on she adapted to the perils and drawbacks of that place and recognized the Puritanical authority of New England.

Even though Anne Bradstreet had eight children between the years spanning from1633 till 1652, which meant that she had to do a lot of household work, she wrote poetry with an earnest pledge to the art of writing. If perused attentively, her verses reflect the religious and emotional dichotomy she experienced as a female poet and as a Puritan. Throughout her life Anne Bradstreet remained preoccupied with paradoxes like sin and salvation, vice and virtue, hope and despair, death and immortality. As a Puritan she had a long struggle to curtail her attachment to this world, but as a woman she felt more profoundly inclined to her husband, her children and to her community.

Anne Bradstreet's earliest poem, "Upon a Fit of Sickness" written by her when she was nineteen, seems pretty close to the traditional beliefs of the Puritans—the plainness and brevity of life, the certainty of death and the hope for deliverance:

O Bubble blast, how long can'st last?
That always art a breaking,
No sooner blown, but dead and gone,
Ev'n as a word that's speaking.
O whil'st I live, this grace me give,
I doing good may be,
Then death's arrest I shall count best,
Because it's thy decree.

 Written in the form of a ballad, the above poem illustrates a thematic stream that refers to the transience of earthly experience which underscores the divine imperative to carry out God’s commandments.
In "A Dialogue between Old England and New," Anne Bradstreet spoke of the political and religious tussles that engulfed England during 17th century as a result of which the Puritans moved away from their home country.
The poem versifies a cluster of dialogues exchanged between mother England and her daughter New England through a poignant work of personification. The compassionate words of the poem reveal Anne Bradstreet’s deep bonds with her motherland and show how upset she was by the disputes and losses of lives caused by the political hazards of England during that time. As Old England’s remorse implies, the perilous impact of the civil disorder of England during 17th century on human life was very painful to Anne Bradstreet:

O pity me in this sad perturbation,
My plundered Towers, my houses devastation,
My weeping Virgins and my young men slain;
My wealthy trading fall'n, my dearth of grain.                                              

 Anne Bradstreet paved the way for American poetry for the first time back in 17th century. It would not be an exaggeration to call her the mother of American verses. Her precious works acted as an inspiration for her successors in America. In fact female American poets and authors of later centuries like Emily Dickinson, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Margaret Fuller and Harriet Beecher Stowe proceeded with the legacy left behind by Anne Bradstreet. She is an imperishable poet. People working on American literature would certainly take a look into her life-sketch while going through American poetry.

Mahfuz Ul Hasib Chowdhury is a contributor to
different English newspapers and magazines.

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