Emily Dickinson Poem 355 Commentary

Topics: Poetry, Emotion, Death Pages: 3 (518 words) Published: November 10, 2015


WD Commentary
Emily Dickinson’s main purpose in poem 355 is to describe an indefinable depression. She creates a melancholy persona to depict the chaos and despair she feels because of her condition. Her poem is structured around her uncertainty towards her mental state. Dickinson, in the first two stanzas, eliminates possibilities to what she may be feeling. She analyzes that “it was not death”, “it was not night”, “it was not frost”, “nor fire”. The poem appeals to the human sense of touch, as Dickinson compares tangible sensations that the body normally experiences to her tumultuous emotions. In the third stanza, Dickinson synthesizes all of the possibilities she eradicated in the previous two stanzas, ominously stating that her condition “tasted like them all”. The narrator is unable to distinguish her feelings from one another, leading the reader to conclude that she is in a chaotic state of mind. She compares her condition to a funeral, both of which evoke death. In the fourth stanza, Dickinson continues to explore her persona’s dark psyche. The narrator experiences terror and despair to the point where she “could not breathe.” Her only “key” to escape this punishment is to be able to understand what she is feeling and why...

In the fifth stanza, the author delves deeper into her depressive state of mind. The narrator perceives her despair in such intensity that “everything that ticked- [had] stopped”. She continues to further ferment her isolation, a sign of a psychological depression. The sixth stanza personifies the narrator’s hopelessness towards her situation. She sees no “chance, or spar” to escape her predicament. The author paradoxically states that she cannot even feel despair, for hope does not exist in her mind. The reader is led to conclude the her mental state is worse than despair, for there is no cure for her illness. Throughout her poem, Dickinson employs several literary devices, such as alliteration, contrast, slant rhymes, and parallel structure, in order to achieve her purpose. There are several examples of alliteration in the text, such as in the lines ”It was not Frost for on my Flesh” and...
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