An Interpretation of Emily Dickinson's Poem I Felt a Funeral, in My Brain

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An Interpretation of Emily Dickinson's Poem I Felt a Funeral, in My Brain

To understand any poem by Emily Dickinson is a challenge. After reading this poem a few times, I decided that the only way to comment on it was to scan all the possible meanings of certain lines and words that Dickinson chose to use. This is my own interpretation of the poem, not to be confused with a definite idea of what Dickinson was trying to convey in her writing of "I Felt a Funeral, in my Brain" (280).

I decided that the best way to comprehend Dickinson's message was to pay more attention to the feelings created and senses stimulated by reading and rereading the poem itself. I came to the conclusion that the author is in deep pain over the loss of a loved one or a very prominent part of her life in the past. Emily compares her feelings to those provoked while attending a funeral. She focuses most on the senses of touch and sound. She "felt a funeral", heard the beating of drums--rather odd sensations for someone to express unless they feel pain equal to that felt at the death of someone loved and needed. Therefore, it is obvious that Dickinson is writing this poem from experience, not observation.

In the first stanza, the poet begins by stating "I Felt a Funeral, in my Brain, and Mourners to and fro/ kept treading- treading- till it seemed/ That Sense was breaking through." In these opening lines, Dickinson is describing the beginning stages of a funeral procession. You have the friends, quiet and subdued, "treading" across the heart of he one who loved the deceased most-Dickinson herself. I don't think that the word "Sense" is used here in the physical tense, but sense as in mental sense, as in realizations or w...

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...behind or places to run for comfort. The last line, "And Finished knowing-then-"is one I interpreted two ways. It could mean that she herself has died, and no longer must deal with the pain. Or it could represent the death of her soul. She stopped knowing anything, because reality had settled in. The shock of if all (the numbness) has evaporated, and now the author decides to give up on fighting off the pain.

I saw this poem as Dickinson's attempt at describing the process of mourning over a loved one. I had inclinations to believe that she is describing her own death, but then I had too many contradicting thoughts on that interpretation. Therefore, I believe that the poet has undergone a serious loss of some sort, and is either figuratively or literally describing the process of recovering from the pain that such a loss ignites inside the survivor.
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