Dickinson comparison

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Dickinson’s “How many times these low feet staggered-” and “The Bustle in a House” both have the theme of death in common. However, each poem addresses a different perspective of death; one focuses on the deceased while the other focuses on those the dead leave behind. Each deals with death as a means to an end. In the case of the first poem, death is a way to escape life. In the case of the second, death is a force acting against the relationship of the speaker and the deceased. “How many times these low feet staggered-” is written from the perspective of someone in an abusive relationship with the deceased woman. They are constantly wondering why she is not cleaning the house and calling her lazy. The poem consists of 12 lines of iambic tetrameter with the exception of the final stanza, which alternates pentameter and tetrameter each line. Because the lines are similar in length, there is no feeling of starting and stopping or drawing something out then contracting it, but more of a monotonous relaying of events. The poem features end rhyme in the second and fourth lines of each stanza. The effect of rhyming “tell” and “steel” is a contrast between the action of telling and the motionless, immovable steel that the woman’s body has taken on, making her incapable of ever telling. The term “soldered mouth” conjures the gruesome image of a mouth permanently melted closed, but also seems reminiscent of a body that has been embalmed, whose lips are sealed in the same manner. The anaphora in lines 3 and 4 of the word “try” drive the phrases following it and take on the feeling of a fruitless effort. You try once to “stir the awful river” and then you try again to “lift the hasps of steel,” but no matter how much you continue to try ... ... middle of paper ... ... place in the house after the death. The line, “Is solemnest of industries” uses the word industry, which conjures an image of an assembly line and a ritual of going through the motions with little thought going into it. The turn before the second stanza shifts the focus from the mourning process to the recovery process. Through the metaphor of “Sweeping up the Heart” like with a broom, the living are urged to clear the pain and sadness out of their hearts. The final lines leave the message that you should not waste your love or emotions about the deceased for when they are dead but to save them until you join them in death. The last line, “Until Eternity-” implies some sort of afterlife where you could share these sentiments with them and see them again, which is enhanced by the use of the dash at the end to lend mystery and uncertainty to what eternity will hold.
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