During her most productive period, 1861 to 1865, Emily Dickinson compiled her poems which were no more than bundles of papers on which Dickinson scribbled haphazardly when inspired. The poems which were dispersed mindlessly in the Homestead for a long time were clean-copied and carefully placed into 40 small packets. They are now termed “fascicles” by the critics who want to find out whether they are formed by her design or not, taking account of the supposition that making the collection could be her hurried response to the “September terror,” anxiety and dread caused by the Civil War.
Even though she never tried to design consciously any artificial patterns, a common denominator in the fascicles can be differentiated: her opposition to the Puritan ideology which persisted that it was the holy war that could precipitate the advent of the millennium in the New World. Her imaginative experimentation in the fascicles scrutinized all the elements of the scriptural and historical significations which legitimized the sacrifice of individual lives in the violence and cruelty of the War.
This paper, by the exploit of thematic coherence of the urgency of the war, analyzes the corpse poems in the fascicle 19 which deal with the voices of the dead. It proves that she intentionally developed the argument on the matter of eternal life through such artistic devices as superseding multiple voices, the tension between evolution and Puritan epistemology, diverse images from economy, science, and traditional faith, allusions of the Bible, subtle breakings of some lines, sense of unending and so on, to destabilize the contemporary Christian ideology that the nation could be glorified by the War dead, the martyrs serving to expedite the upcoming New Jerusalem in America. The artistic plasticity dominating the fascicle 19 succeeds in widening the “Circumference” of poetic vistas by shaking the foundations of the Puritan typology which represents God’s only presence in the history.