Nor is it surprising that so many of her verse forms appear to shimmer in the nothingness that surrounds them, a nothingness filled merely by God, the atemporal God of poetic immortality, the God with whom she identified her in some ways all excessively Emersonian ego. “ Behind Me – dips Eternity – / Before Me -Immortality – / Myself – the Term between – ” , Dickinson ‘s talker boldly declares, mirroring the egotistic self-referentiality of the Deity whom she labeled with no little sum of sarcasm, the “ Son of none ” and “ Duplicate Godhead. ” In unifying her art with Godhead, Dickinson, the in-between term, achieved the immortality for which she yearned, get awaying the whirl ( “ Maelstrom ” or vortex ) of clip:
‘T is Miracle before Me – so –
‘T is Miracle behind – between –
A Crescent in the Sea –
With Midnight to the North of Her –
And Midnight to the South of Her –
And Maelstrom – in the Sky –
Behind Me-dips Eternity ‘ ( 721 ) strives for an every bit strong avowal of immortality, but it reveals more hurting than “ Those non unrecorded yet ” and possibly some uncertainty. In the first stanza, the talker is trapped in life between the unmeasurable yesteryear and the unmeasurable hereafter. Death is represented as the dark of early forenoon which will turn into the visible radiation of Eden. The 2nd stanza celebrates immortality as the kingdom of God ‘s eternity. Rather than observing the three, Emily Dickinson first insists on God ‘s individual ageless being, which diversifies itself in Godhead extras. This hard transition likely means that each individual ‘s accomplishment of immortality makes him portion of God. The phrase ‘they say ‘ and the chant-like insisting of the first two stanzas suggest a individual seeking to convert herself of these truths. The hurting expressed in the concluding stanza illuminates this uncertainness. The miracle behind her is the eternal range of clip. The miracle before her is the promise of Resurrection, and the miracle between is the quality of her ain being-probably what God has given her of Himself-that warrants that she will populate once more. However, the last three lines portray her life as a life snake pit, presumptively of struggle, denial, and disaffection. If this is the instance, we can see why she is hankering for an immortal life. But she still fears that her present “ midnight ” neither promises nor deserves to be changed in Eden. These uncertainties, of class, are lone deductions. The verse form is chiefly an indirect supplication that her hopes may be fulfilled.
One might be tempted to reason that Dickinson is non so much concerned with clip as it determines our earthly being but instead with eternity, infinity, and immortality. Yet deserving our critical consideration is how she uses exactly those forms of the absence of clip as a agency of nearing the construct of clip, which seems so elusive even to her. One of the most successful efforts at specifying clip through eternity is achieved in her verse form “ Behind Me – dips Eternity – ” ( FP 743 ) . John Vanderstice points out that “ the first three lines present a important, ocular image of clip ” ( 195 ) :
Behind me – dips Eternity –
Before Me – Immortality –
Myself – the Term between –
However, whether this image needfully suggests “ a round theoretical account of clip ( aˆ¦ ) in which an ageless yesteryear discharge upward, runs through the present, and continues on the every bit ageless hereafter ( aˆ¦ ) ” is questionable ( 195 ) . The round theoretical account itself might be disputed because of the prepositions “ behind ” and “ before ” which suggest one-dimensionality, but the accent here juxtaposes infinity and immortality as stand foring eternity on the one manus and clip, or the being in between, on the other. Furthermore, it is non existence as such, the Being of the universe, that is attributed clip, but the human being, the lyrical I in the verse form: “ Myself – the Term between – ” ( accent added ) . This is important because the poet therefore states that it takes human consciousness in the first topographic point to gestate both of clip and of its antonym. The important word in this line, nevertheless, is Term, ” since it denotes both a specific period of clip every bit good as a verbal look. Interestingly, this line, unlike the two preceding, lacks a verb, unless we apply “ dips ” from the first line to this 1 every bit good. But that would non do much sense. Any verb used for grammatical maps is marked by its tense and therefore signifies a certain clip. The usage of the present tense hence adequately fits the first two lines since without future and past infinity and immortality manifest the forever now. By abandoning the verb and therefore the usage of a specific tense in the 3rd line, Dickinson manages to avoid the quandary of capturing present, past, or hereafter. The “ Term ” contains all. Mentioning to the human being and being, this verse form besides features the fact that human being is terminated, framed by get downing and stop. The “ Term between ” could therefore even suggest a mere break of eternity. The quandary described by Vanderstice is dissolved by the poet: “ The quandary of immortality for Dickinson, so, is that if immortality means the continuance of single consciousness, it must besides intend a go oning consciousness of clip, whereas if one escapes the consciousness of clip in immortality, so immortality must intend ‘the terminal of all consciousness in limbo ‘
In 1863, in the center of the Civil War, Emily Dickinson imagines drifting high above the Earth and its history, looking down. From that position, she sees clip itself:
Behind Me – dips Eternity
Before Me – Immortality –
Myself – the Term between –
Although the talker of this verse form rises above history, her surging flight is troubled. The verse form concludes with the image of a dark and stormy dark. She is suspended, she writes,
With Midnight to the North of Her
And Midnight to the South of Her
And Maelstrom – in the Sky
This is a Civil War verse form. Projected into the sky, the talker imagines herself as a “ term ” negociating between infinity and immortality at the bosom of the storm that rages between the dark forces of North and South. But this is a unusual civil war verse form. It is non all that loyal. It refuses to take sides. The ego that Dickinson describes – positioned between past and future, infinity and immortality, North and South – is surprisingly unstable, difficult to repair or trap down. Not merely is she is at the bosom of the whirlpool – she is a whirlpool. During the Civil War, when Dickinson was composing and revising furiously, her poesy frequently assumed a high-flying, abstract position on faraway force. Poems such as “ Behind Me – dips Eternity ” bring together Dickinson ‘s preoccupations with position, with historical and theological clip, and with the war. Dickinson was interested in what she called “ compound vision, ” and frequently presented a poetic point of position located someplace outside of clip and above the Earth. She was besides fascinated by the war. The slaughter inspired her. With some sorrow, she described herself as a poet who sang “ from the charnel stairss ” ( JL 298 ) . Many of her war verse forms are about force, decease, and uncertainness ; a surprising figure are besides aerial position verse forms. But Dickinson ‘s version of the panoramic position pushes beyond popular conventions. She has a peculiar bent for abstract aerial positions that are every bit disorienting as aerial exposure. Dickinson ‘s poetic vision was deeply shaped by the ocular construction of modern warfare.
At the start of this essay, “ Behind Me – dips Eternity ” ( FP 743 ) served as an illustration of a Civil War poem that presents an absent aerial position. “ Behind Me ” is besides one of the many verse forms in which Dickinson ‘s “ compound vision ” is explicitly aerialized to such a great tallness that she is able to see clip itself – both historical clip ( the infinity that stretches behind her ) and the posthumous hereafter ( the immortality that stretches before her ) . In “ Behind Me, ” as in of “ The Admirations – and Contempts – of clip, ” the “ Height ” is someway related to “ Dying. ” The grave itself
is an optical device that helps to build an aerial position.
“ Behind me – dips Eternity ” has an unusual use of tenses.