Theme in Poetry: Dickenson, Hayden and Frost

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Theme in Poetry
Poetry is subjective in its very nature, which is what makes it sometimes so beautiful. It can not be argued or reasoned with; it just is. There are, however, some very important technical parts to a poem. Theme is one of these parts. The theme of poetry is not always readily identifiable as the author may simply be trying to state feelings or memories of a certain idea or event. More times than not, though, present in poetry are multiple themes. Such is the case in Emily Dickenson’s “Crumbling is not an instant’s Act,” Robert Hayden’s “Those Winter Sundays,” and Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” Theme is a distinct, recurring, and unifying quality or idea that is the subject of a particular composition and all three of the aforementioned poems have similar but distinct themes.

Emily Dickinson’s “Crumbling is not an instant’s Act” theme is that of the crumbling, or breaking down of an individual. Dickinson explores the different aspects of a person that can break down as well as coming to the conclusion that “crumbling is not an instant‘s act” and takes place over time. The slow process of “breaking down” is described as “a fundamental pause” meaning that it can be seen only as a pause at the beginning, or nothing of consequence, but the pause comes from an essential and structural base of the person. Dickinson states that “dilapidation’s processes are organized Smith-2

Decays” illustrating that dilapidation can take years before anyone can see any defect or difference in anything. Also that the process of decay is ordered, systematic and regular-something that can and will happen in certain instances regardless of any preparation or defense. In other words, crumbling is inevitable. It is also both spiritual and physical as is illustrated in the second stanza of the poem. Dickenson writes that crumbling starts on the inside and works its way out when she says “’tis first a Cobweb on the Soul” almost as imperceptible as...
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