Crumbling Is Not an Instants Act

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Analysis of "Crumbling is not an instant's Act"

by Emily Dickinson

"Crumbling is not an instant's Act" is a lyric by Emily Dickinson. It tells how crumbling does not happen instantaneously; it is a gradual process occurring slowly and cumulatively over time.

The structure of this poem is complex and it tied directly into the figurative meaning. This poem consists of three quatrains written in iamic meter but with no set number of feet per line. Also, the second and fourth lines of each quatrain thyme somewhat. Perhaps the most perplexing attribute of the structure is that Dickinson capitalizes words in mid-sentence that would not normally be capitalized. This could represent decaying objects; capitalized words represent things still standing and lowercase words represent things decayed. This poem is choppy at timed, but it flows smoothly at others. Long hyphens throughout the poem slow down reading speed. This could be compared to the rate of decay. Sometimes decay is rapid, sometimes it is slow. the last three parts of the poem's structure help create its figurative meaning.

Imagery is Dickinson's main figurative tool in this poem. the idea that crumbling is progressive is supported by the last two lines of the first stanza, which state,

"Dilapidation's processes

Are organized Decays"

This means that crumbling is a result of dilapidation, which is caused by gradual decay. The deterioration that results is progressive: one stage of decay leads to the next until crumbling inevitably comes along. The second stanza contains four images of decay: "cobweb, rust, dust and borer in the axis." These images are combined with specific details which give them a deeper meaning. The dust is a "cuticle," which suggests that it is at the edges. The "cobwebs on the soul" suggest spiritual deterioration (cobwebs symbolizing neglect)....
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