Emily Dickinson | American Recluse

Destination of the Mind

Emily Dickinson loved nature and books and so she became a recluse at an early age. Emily never left her room, even for her father’s memorial service, because she preferred the destination of the mind. Mind and spirit were destinations for Emily and so that is where she lived. Read Emily Dickinson after you go to a funeral and you will feel how this beautifully dark poetess hits the nail on the coffin. Death was all around and so Emily just wanted to hang out with her dog Carlo and write poetry until she herself died at age 55.

After great pain, a formal feeling comes – (372)

BY EMILY DICKINSONAfter great pain, a formal feeling comes –
The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs –
The stiff Heart questions ‘was it He, that bore,’
And ‘Yesterday, or Centuries before’?

The Feet, mechanical, go round –
A Wooden way
Of Ground, or Air, or Ought –
Regardless grown,
A Quartz contentment, like a stone –

This is the Hour of Lead –
Remembered, if outlived,
As Freezing persons, recollect the Snow –
First – Chill – then Stupor – then the letting go –


The Undiscovered Continent: Academic Suzanne Juhasz considers that Dickinson saw the mind and spirit as tangible visitable places and that for much of her life she lived within them.[156] Often, this intensely private place is referred to as the “undiscovered continent” and the “landscape of the spirit” and embellished with nature imagery. At other times, the imagery is darker and forbidding—castles or prisons, complete with corridors and rooms—to create a dwelling place of “oneself” where one resides with one’s other selves.[156] An example that brings together many of these ideas is: “Me from Myself – to banish – / Had I Art – / Impregnable my Fortress / Unto All Heart – / But since myself—assault Me – / How have I peace / Except by subjugating / Consciousness. / And since We’re mutual Monarch / How this be / Except by Abdication – / Me – of Me?”.[156]

Destination of the Body, Mind & Spirit

My own personal journey is to the destination of the mind, body & spirit. I have already been everywhere and done everything except father children. The human body is a universe and I am still finding new places on mine. It is amazing just to live as long as I have. Now that I am 62 years old I know how Emily Dickinson felt. Although I am not a total recluse I rarely go out anymore because I live in the destination of the mind. I don’t even go to the library anymore. This month I will be experiencing the four Gospels as if I am actually experiencing the destination of the mystic mind of Christ.