Emily Dickinson - Death Is a Dialogue

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“Death is a Dialogue” and “If I Can Stop One Heart from Breaking”
Analysis of Effective Poetry

Of the two poems both written by Emily Dickinson, “Death is a Dialogue” and “If I Can Stop One Heart from Breaking”, the first is one that a qualified reader would say is a good poem and the second is one a qualified reader would call a bad poem. The second poem possesses one of the three varieties of inferior poetry. Alternatively, “Death is a Dialogue” possesses poetic devices that establish it as a superior work of literature. First, both poems have a similar central purpose. In “Death is a Dialogue”, the central purpose is to convey a perspective about the spirit and the afterlife. In “If I Can Stop One Heart from Breaking”, the central purpose is that by helping others, life becomes purposeful. However, the first poem is superior to the second poem. The first poem depicts the human spirit as something that is immortal. The first poem has more poetical merit than the second poem in the use of imagery, symbolism, and personification. The poem is structured as a dialogue alongside a combination of personification and apostrophe. Used together, these literary devices give “life” and immediacy to the language of the poem as seen in Dickinson’s first poem. The reader is provoked to think of abstract concepts of ‘Death’ and ‘the Spirit’ as thinking, feeling, and speaking like human beings. The use of personification is found in the second and third lines: “’Dissolve” says Death – The Spirit “Sir / I have another Trust” –“. ‘Death’ and ‘the Spirit’ are also personified physically, as found in line two of stanza two: “The Spirit turns away”. The combination of these poetic devices creates a subtle but creative ironic tone. Since the poem depicts a dialogue between nonhuman entities that are in disagreement about the immorality of ‘the Spirit’, personifying them gives them the qualities of life that suggests that the soul is immortal. The last two lines of the second...
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