Death, Life And Despair In The Poems Because I Could Not Stop For Death, A Light Exists In Spring And There's A Certain Slant Of Light

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Only the very weak-minded refuse to be influenced by literature and poetry.” (Cassandra) .Poetry has always been the music in literature. A novel or a play would sometimes use poetry. Poetry does not restrict itself to romance. In fact, it can be a way to express our day-day activities or even the most mundane routines we dwell on. However, a romantic poem is clearly more powerful in terms of expressions and portrayal of strong emotions or impulses. Death can be expressed in the most macabre way or introduced as a romantic element. I believe that Emily Dickinson is one of America’s greatest poets. Her poems are known for questioning the nature of immortality and death. At many times, her poems had a mantric way of telling. My essay will discuss three poems for her namely: ‘Because I could not stop for Death’, ‘A Light exists in Spring’ and. ‘There's a certain Slant of light. For the first poem, I will focus on the symbolic meaning. For the second and third poems, I will talk about the relationship between romance and nature. I will explain how romance often involves a vision of nature- the nature outside as well as the nature within.

Death is always thought of as a dark figure that spreads sadness and despair all around. ‘Because I could not stop for Death’ defies that common belief. Emily Dickinson depicts death as a benevolent spirit. In the first stanza, first line, first letter of death is in capital, usually that would strike fear into our hearts. Death is personified as a gentleman coming to pick up the speaker.

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The word ‘Carriage’ symbolizes the journey they are about to undertake. ‘Ourselves’ and ‘Immortality’ extends the journey to an eternal undertaking. This would obviously allude to adventure and the belief that getting on a ride with death is not the end but merely the beginning of a life full of adventure and mysteries. In the second stanza, ‘We slowly drove- He knew no Haste’ signifies the never ending time the passengers have on their hands. Emily is clearly fascinated by Death as she referred to him as a civil entity and again as a gentleman ‘For his Civility’. Moreover, she put away all her worries and made herself available for death to accompany him on their journey as seen in second and third lines of second stanza. That actually could be a connotation to how romance comes to play in the most bizarre ways. Death is depicted as a gentleman picking up the speaker and he is quite civil. It is as if Death is courting his passenger.

There are many symbols of death and romance in the poem. On the third stanza, ’Children strove’ refers to vitality and beginning of life versus death. ‘The Ring’ could be the circle of life after death. ‘Field of Gazing Grain’ represents the ripeness and that she is ready to leave, the feeling is strengthened by the next line ‘the Setting Sun’ which is ironically a romantic scene as witnessed by many lovers. Furthermore, the word ‘passed’ is mentioned quite often throughout the whole poem which symbolizes the passage of the soul into the afterlife. Death is again symbolized with the words ‘Dews’, ‘quivering and chill’; the cold grasp of death draws near. ‘We paused before a House that seemed/A Swelling of the Ground’ symbolizes the slow fading of life. Finally, the poem ends with a dash which expresses immortality and eternity.

There are various nature poems. ‘A Light Exists In Spring’ is a poem for Emily Dickinson. While Emily is not usually read as a master of pastoral romance, this poem is ostensibly a nature poem. More importantly, the experience itself felt throughout the poem is a religious journey of the soul as much as could be a promenade for leisure. Romance usually involves a vision of nature. In the poem’s first stanza, a particular light comes in spring. The month March is rarely around and that signifies that spring usually comes at the end of the month. This is a sad portrayal for a specific light that comes late at the end of the month. The second stanza’s first two lines show how that special light changes how the poet perceives the world. ‘A Color stands abroad’, the beautiful colors of flowers and lush green trees usually shine with the eflection of light thus drawing a magnificent sight for sore eyes. A beautiful scene painted through words could only arouse affectionate senses and passion into play. The second line uses the word ‘Solitary Fields’, the word ‘solitary’ usually relates to monks living a lonely life of worship and self-restraint. Combining ‘Fields’ with ‘Solitary’ personifies these fields as a lonely individual without companionship. Having no company is sad in a romantic way. That’s why spring light comes and befriends the solitary fields thus eliminating the sad sensation felt thought the empty lonely fields.

Many poets have a distaste for science, John Keats does not have much tolerance for science in his poem ’Lamia’ for outstripping mother nature’s alluring magic as described by Richard Dawkins the writer of ‘Unweaving the Rainbow’. Emily Dickinson does not share the same strictness but clearly sought to condemn science nevertheless. The next line in the second stanza shows how science not matter how advanced could take away the sensual beauty of spring light. ‘Human nature feels’ what we see with our own eyes is nothing to what one would feel when engulfed with vast sights of slopes of lawns and green fields especially as portrayed in the third stanza ‘Upon the furthest Slope you know’. The word ‘know’ refers to our inner selves and our hearts could feel the anguish from watching Mother Nature reveal its wonderful colors and then take our breaths away. Lastly, light speaks to us ’It almost speaks to you’; divinity shines through. The holy light of god always inspires warmth and serenity upon people’s souls which is a religious moment but can be ascribed as well to being romantic. After all, the whole point of companionship is to feel warm and secure.

On the fourth stanza, the description of the never-ending lawns again is beautiful but alas, the end is near. Light passes and moves on to another part on the planet without a warning, without an utterance of sound or word to prepare us for spring light’s departure, the poet is left alone again ‘it passes and we stay.’ Finally, the last stanza deals with the loss inflicted upon the poet as light dissipates, it has affected her mentally and spiritually. The feeling of loss and despair overwhelms the poet as light abandons her just like how lovers would leave each other after a brief but inspiring romance.

Life Is Dukkha (O’Brien). Gautama Buddha expressed life as many things, among them Dukka, means pain and misery. In the previous discussed poem, light was a positive force of good. In the poem ‘There's a certain Slant of light’, nature is not represented as a source of inspiration. In fact, spiritual despair and presumption centralize the poem as themes. It is important to consider Emily’s background as well. She was not the pure legacy of puritanism; she was a member of a ‘Shakespeare Club’. In that regards, she usually subverted common ideas or images and shifted underlying elements into dominant figures in a form of anamorphosis. Light is usually full of hope and life but Emily describes a certain light that comes in winter. Nature is actually mirrored as a source of spiritual dejection which fervently describes nature within and how it is seen through her eyes.

The word ‘Slant’ is usually a verb or an adjective. The way it is used as a noun is a pun because it expresses light as something enigmatic and tangible, we know that since she uses ‘ certain’ to specify. The next lines describing the aesthetic power of cathedral music is undermined by words like ‘oppressed’ and ’heft’ which tend to pin down a personal experience that is mysterious yet profound for the impact it instills upon her. The second Stanza is an intense befuddlement in core. It expresses how the landscape and holy light harms her but the meanings are abstract and vague in nature ‘But internal difference –Where the Meanings, are –‘. More on that, the subordinate clause ‘Where/are’ could refer to a spiritual experience felt through nature in a different reality that is not defined by location but by the powerful impact of nature’s own devices.

Despair is irrevocable in the third stanza for Emily, Light is a depressing element which will prevent us from reaching enlightenment and passing through the doors of heaven. ‘Tis The Seal Despair’, light extinguishes our senses of vitality and takes out optimism thus leaving us as empty shells. Death comes finally in the last stanza, ‘the landscape listens’ as if it’s preparing to die and hear its last rites. Shadows soon follow and obviously need light to exist anyway. Ironically, light will disappear and so will a shadow which signifies death.

The last two lines have alliteration in ‘Death’ and ‘Distance’ which works as distant whispers of gradual extinction. Hence forth, everything that is vibrant and clear in nature slowly dies in the void caused by the force of winter light.

“Trust the place to form the voice.” (Howe). Emily Dickinson rarely left her hometown and left a secluded life. Dickinson says so much in so little; her statements are usually confusing and complex. In that retrospect, we sometimes get moody and express our own pain and sufferings differently. In her first poem about death, she describes death as a gentleman and a romantic figure. She uses many symbols in the first poem to show that. The second poem clearly promotes light and nature as a self-vitalizing and healing force of good in the most profound ways. Many of us go through various stages of life. It is not all ‘roses and rainbows’ .The last poem is mysterious and puzzling but once the surface is scratched, the inner makings of the poem expel out the subliminal allegories. These images can take many twists especially with consent and descent. The refusal to take language for granted is a perfect example of the prevalence of consent in Dickinson’s poems (Stéphanie Durrans). When Emily Dickinson talks about her own pain, she renders it through a different perspective. In addition, Emily makes people question their own existence.

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Death, Life And Despair In The Poems Because I Could Not Stop For Death, A Light Exists In Spring And There’s A Certain Slant Of Light. (2021, September 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 14, 2024, from
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