Emily Dickinson’s Poem It Was Not Death Essay

Emily Dickinson’s Poem It Was Not Death Essay

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In Emily Dickinson’s poem “It Was Not Death”, Dickinson is stuck in a mental state of hopelessness and despair which she cannot define nor understand. As Dickinson does not know the cause of her anguish, she begins the poem by referring to her condition with an unidentified “it”, and throughout the poem she is trying to make sense of this “it”. The poem is written in ballad meter as it consists of four line stanzas that contain alternate lines of iambic tetrameter followed by iambic trimeter.

In both the first and second stanza, Dickinson is trying to make sense of her feelings by eliminating the different possibilities of her current mental state. She uses specific details in order to make these images clear to the reader: Dickinson is standing up, so these feelings cannot be that of death; bells are ringing to signify mid-day, hence the darkness surrounding her cannot be a result of night; the cold she is experiencing is not physical because she can also feel siroccos, which is a hot, dry wind that blows from northern Africa across southern Europe, on her skin; nor can the hea...

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