Essay and Analysis of Emily Dickensons "Funeral in the Brain"

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Thiago DeCoene
4/20/13
Eng 101
Professor Dahiny

Poem and its Structure

Emily Dickenson is a renowned poet whose poems reflect mostly on her loneliness and her want for a possible happiness in her future. Her style of writing was greatly influenced by poets of the seventeenth-century, who lived in England. Due to her unique style of writing, depth, and thought provoking themes she has became revered as one of the greatest female poets to this day. Her poem “I felt a funeral in my brain” expresses the feeling of loosing her normal thought processes and functions in her brain, simulating the same feeling a person might have at the time of death.

The poem is a cinquain written in a hymn meter. The style of her writing might suggest she never wrote in the iambic pentameter because hymn meters don’t follow the same rules. The lines alternate between Iambic Tetrameter and Iambic Trimeter. It follows a more ABDB form as the lines might show:

I felt a Funeral, in my Brain,
And Mourners to and fro
Kept treading—treading—till it seemed
That Sense was breaking through—(1-4)

This form of writing does not generally follow the common meter as only the second and fourth lines rhyme. What is interesting about this style is that the stanza has the feel of a Common Meter yet the rhyme scheme is not ABAB like the Common meter commands. The tone, the rhyme scheme, and the varied meter differentiate Ballad Meter from Common Meter. (Gillespie 1)

This poem is about the loss of her mind and the culmination of events that occur in her head. By discarding her feelings she allows us to see what is torturing her without delving too deep into the privacy of her emotions. The poem allow us to simultaneously be there watching the funeral procession next to Emily and also the pain, confusion, and uncertainty that she has. Cynthia Griffin Wolf tells us that “"Without the systematic, articulated ceremony of the funeral rites, a reader might have no idea what the...
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