Emily Dickinson- What Mystery Pervades a Well Analysis

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Emily Dickinson- What Mystery Pervades a Well Analysis

By | March 2012
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The first stanza opens with a rhetorical statement which compels the reader to anticipate the subject. Its exclamatory finality suggests the persona’s overwhelming response to a potentially metaphysical question. The use of the word ‘pervades’ subsequent to the word ‘mystery’ combine to create an ominous spectral tone. The persona’s sense of belonging is discrepant as reflected by the expansion and contraction of paradoxical subjects present in the latter of the stanza; a typical feature of Emily Dickinson poetry. ‘Neighbour’ is symbolic for connections, however is generalised in the expansion of its context when it is distantly addressed as belonging (‘from’) to ‘another world’. Enjambment escorts the contraction of this idea by its enervation into the confines of a ‘jar’. Contrastingly, a strong rhythm and alternating tetrameter rhyme are present, which inject a harmonious continuation.

The second stanza appeals to a wider philosophical value, where the ‘lid’ to the ‘glass’ ‘jar’ can be interpreted as the desire for the human condition to contain nature; but the lid is its barrier. The simile ‘like looking.... in an abyss’s face’ encapsulates the insinuation of human futility with the personification of ‘abyss’ accumulating a metaphorical disposition to a metaphysical context. The rhythm is interrupted by the syllabic nature of the word ‘abyss’ which is reflective of the enigmatic tone. This is furthered by the half-rhyme of ‘glass’ and ‘face’.

The personification of the grass in the word ‘afraid’ dictates the persona’s continuation of this tone. The use of a masculine natural entity; ‘wonder he’ is contrary to the conventional mother nature reference. The persona (which contextually relates to Dickinson) implicitly explores how one needs the courage to be ‘bold’ and break convention in order to belong, or form connections. The use of the word ‘awe’ in conjunction with the general theme of nature’s mystery is a sublime concept which stems from the...
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