Emily Dickinson Poem Explication: Poem #561

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Dickinson’s poem “510: It was not Death, for I stood up,” explores the uncertainties of Death. The speaker attempts to define or understand her own condition to unwrap the cause of her suffering. The use of extended metaphor is utilized as the speaker uses the term “death” and that her life and state of mind, to her, resembles nothing other than death itself. The dominant effect would be the feeling of despair as the speaker represents this by saying “As if my life were shaven, / and fitted to a frame,” or in other words indicating that the speaker’s life has been shaven down solely to despair and that the “frame fitted” would only be feelings of terror. Dickinson frames her poem into 6 quatrains each with the alternations of 8 and 6 syllables per line. The irregular capitalization in the poem is shown with the use of “it” and other terms relating to death, light, dark, cold and somewhat chaotic tragedy.

Within the first two stanzas, the speaker uses repetition of “It was not” to eliminate the possibilities or ideas of being dead “for I stood up/And all the dead, lie down.” The speaker represents different attributes of emotion with the use of personification as she felt “Siroccos – crawl” which gives a sort of chilly or warm landscape/setting, something only the mortal could feel. She also uses personification by making the bells “Put out their tongues, for noon.” Or in greater terms the afternoon bells were ringing. Therefore she should be nothing other than alive if she can still sense things like this. She then uses imagery to show that her psychological state and surroundings affect every aspect of her life when she says “And yet, it tasted, like them all,” The different feelings encountered by the speaker have come together probably enforcing her to be in the rather chaotic state that she’s in. As the speaker states that the figures she have seen were “Set orderly, for Burial” the mind of the speaker automatically shifts back to a funeral which brings...
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