An Analysis of Poems 585 and 754

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An Analysis of Poems 585 and 754 Emily Dickinson’s use of poetic diction in poems 585 and 754 brings to life two inanimate objects, a train and a gun, both of which perform actions that are useful to man. Though these items cannot act on their own, Dickinson’s diction provides them with their own movements, characteristics, and feelings. In poem 585, a train’s daily journey is given a meaning beyond that of a cold, iron machine when Dickinson describes its animal qualities to show its strength, stubbornness, and perseverance. In poem 754, a gun is portrayed as a protective, devoted servant. In both of these poems, Emily Dickinson uses diction to give a train and a gun characteristics of animals to explain their behavior and feelings and to show how man uses them to his advantage and to meet his goals. In poem 585, Dickinson’s diction reveals traits of hunger and determination. In the first stanza, "I like to see it lap the Miles--/And lick the Valleys up--/And stop to feed itself at tanks" (ll. 1-3) describes the train as an animal that runs hungrily over great distances, devouring the land as it goes along, stopping occasionally to eat more substantial food to survive and to continue. Though it is able to perform powerful feats of transportation, the train needs nourishment, just like humans and animals do. With the following lines, Dickinson shows the determination of the train to meet his goal: "And, supercilious, peer/In Shanties—by the sides of Roads—And then a quarry pare/To fit its ribs" (ll. 6-9). These lines also suggest a stubborn determination. Even if the train has to crawl and cut through hundreds of yards of solid rock, nothing will stop this metal animal, not even a huge mountain. The train can drive... ... middle of paper ... ...Why would the master need protection? In both poems, Emily Dickinson uses diction to provide the reader the opportunity to see inanimate objects with some human qualities, first in a determined, powerful train and then in a devoted, non-feeling gun. Though these are inanimate objects, the reader can get a sense of the influences and contributions they give to man. The train made a great impact on travel by allowing him to cover great distances in shorter times. It appears that this iron horse could take man anywhere. In Dickinson’s time the power of trains was an amazement in itself. With the rifle, man has control of something quite powerful, something that can kill but cannot be killed. With her skillful and interesting word choice, Dickinson brings to light the amazing strength of one object, the train, and the fearful power of another, the gun.

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