Comparison of Emily Dickinson Poems

Comparison of Emily Dickinson Poems

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Emily Dickinson’s poems, “I” and “VIII”, are both three verses long and convey the irony and anguish of the world in different ways. By paraphrasing each of Dickinson’s poems, “I” and “VIII”, similarities and differences between the two become apparent. Putting the poem into familiar language makes it easier to comprehend.
     “I” and “VIII” are easier to understand after they have been translated into everyday language. In main concept of the first verse of “I” is that success is valued most by those who never succeed and that fruit tastes sweeter to those that are hungry. The second verse goes on to enforce that those who are alive and well after a battle do not appreciate the victory. The ending of “I” concludes the statement started in verse two. Its concept is that the one who is dying is the one who truly values the news of triumph. Likewise, “VIII” starts off with a statement similar to that of “I”. A hurt animal jumps higher than usual due to the shock of death. The following verse reinforces the idea in a different manner, a hurt rock gushes, broken steel springs, and a cheek is red where it has been hurt. The concluding verse states that people only laugh to mask their pain in order to avoid showing the sadness that they harbor to the world. Now that each poem has been paraphrased, it is simple to spy similarities and differences in their topics and structure.
     The similarities between “I” and “VIII” exist in their use of irony, paradox, and repetition of ideas. Irony is woven throughout both poems. In “I”, the most apparent ironic statement is “as he defeated, dying, on whose forbidden ear the distant strains of triumph break, agonized and clear.” While we expect those alive and celebrating their victory to appreciate it most, Dickinson
states that the one who has died for his country is the one who really values the win. In “VIII”, it is stated that “mirth is the mail of anguish” which appears to contradictory. However, in Dickinson’s poem, it is used as an ironic statement to prove that people go to extreme lengths to hide their pain. Along with irony, both poems contain a paradox. In “I”, it is “success is counted sweetest by those who never succeed.” In “VIII” it is “the ecstacy of death.” Both poems also repeat the same idea in a number of ways.

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In “I” the first verse is a repetition of the idea that the one who is neglected, is the one who values whatever they are striving for. In “VIII”, the first two verses are solely repetitions of the idea that in the midst of pain and anguish is when someone or something does all they can to hide it, whether it be the deer jumping or the rock gushing. Although the poems are similar in some aspects of figurative language, they also have differences.
     The difference between “I” and “VIII” exist between their subject matters, the use of personification, and the contrasting use of alliteration and symbol. The most prominent difference is the subject matter of each poem. While “I” is about the irony of life, “VIII” is about the agony of life. “I” uses examples during battle while “VIII” concerns its matters with nature. “VIII” also uses two examples of personification, “hectic stings” and “mirth is the mail of anguish”, while “I” is void of personification. Another difference is that “I” uses symbol while “VIII” uses alliteration. “I” uses “purple host” as a symbol for war and soldiers. “VIII” uses an alliteration to Moses by making the statement about “the smitten rock that gushes.” Evidently, while the poems are comparable, each conveys its value and meaning in a different way.
     While “I” is more popular, often recited at funerals and easily recognizable by the public, “VIII” has a moral that many can relate to, making it the better poem. The repetition of ideas is
used more effectively in “VIII” than it is in “I”. This repetition makes the significance of the poem more intense. The alliteration to Moses also shows that the poem has depth and value. It creates a familiarity. The subject matter is also more familiar. While “I” deals with a battle-like situation, “VIII” conveys a common concept, hiding emotions, with a familiar atmosphere, a forest. While Emily Dickinson wrote in the 1800's, “VIII” is one of those poems with an unending longevity due to its uncommon view of a common emotion.
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