Analysis of After Great Pain A Formal Feeling Comes by Emily Dickinson

Analysis of After Great Pain A Formal Feeling Comes by Emily Dickinson

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In After great pain, a formal feeling comes(341), Emily Dickinson offers the reader a transitus observation of the time just after the death of a loved one. Dickinson questions where one goes in the afterlife asking, 'Of Ground, or Air' or somewhere else (line 6)' We often remember those who die before us, as we ourselves, as morbid as it may be, with everyday, are brought closer to our own deaths. As used in most of her poetry, she continues in iambic meter with stressed then unstressed syllables. Dickinson, however, straying away from her norm of 8-6-8-6 syllable lines repeating, uses a seemingly random combination of ten, eight, six, and four syllables, with the entire first stanza of ten syllables per lines. Line three lends itself to ambiguity as Dickinson writes, 'The stiff Heart questions was it He, that bore,' he, refers to the heart, yet she doesn't specify exactly what he bore. Dickinson refers to the Quartz grave growing out of the ground as one dies, lending itself to a certain imagery of living after death (lines 8-9). Although the poem holds no humor, she stretches to find what goes on after death. As we get to the end of the process of letting go of the one dying, Dickinson reminds us of the figurative and literal coldness of death. The cold symbolizes an emotion and lifeless person as well as the lack of blood circulation.

Bringing reference her off syllable lines, the author of Dickinson's Fascicles, says the first stanza is held together by the structured iambic pentameter, in addition to using rhyming couplets as in, ?Bore? and ?before.? Due to Dickinson?s submergence in nature, she emphasizes organic matter, with both her use and capitalization of ?Heart? and ?Nerves.? Although she draws attention to those of which are organic, she shifts to emphasize those of which are inorganic, for those of ?Ground,? ?Air,? and ?Quartz.? Analyzing the two four syllable lines, ?A Wooden way/Regardless grown? (7-8), the way can be viewed as an insincere mourning path that society attempts to set individuals toward to cope with their emotions during troubled times. Wood, even though an organic matter is used negatively here to describe an artificial reconstruction of this natural element into a coffin. Looking further at an inorganic element, quartz, it signifies the sharp pain of a loss.

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Concluding with the final stanza, the capitalization of ?Hour,? relates to the end of the first stanza?s reference to time. ?Timelessness is an important factor in the ambiguity of the poem, rather than describing a singular, specific event of losing a loved one, Dickinson strives for timelessness by writing about the personal strife that anybody could feel in the face of misfortune? (148). Lastly, her use of cold imagery including ?Snow,? ?Cold,? and ?Chill,? relate to the numbness associated with death and the deceased.
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