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English - Essay Example

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Emily Dickinson (1830–86).  Complete Poems.  1924. Part Four: Time and Eternity L THE ONLY ghost I ever saw Was dressed in mechlin,—so; He wore no sandal on his foot, And stepped like flakes of snow. His gait was soundless, like the bird,         5 But rapid, like the roe; His fashions quaint, mosaic, Or, haply, mistletoe…
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How many times these low feet staggered (238) BY EMILY DICKINSON How many times these low feet staggered - Only the soldered mouth can tell - Try - can you stir the awful rivet - Try - can you lift the hasps of steel! Stroke the cool forehead - hot so often - Lift - if you care - the listless hair - Handle the adamantine fingers Never a thimble - more - shall wear - Buzz the dull flies - on the chamber window - Brave - shines the sun through the freckled pane - Fearless - the cobweb swings from the ceiling - Indolent Housewife - in Daisies - lain! Tone and Implications of Death in Dickinson’s “The Only Ghost” and “How Many Times” Emily Dickinson, as a poetic writer, composed most of her works with the theme of death, the entirety of which can be categorized into three different periods of writings, the earliest mainly contained the themes of death and immortality, personifying death and elegiac poems and lacked the intensity and urgency of her later poems or their fascination with the physical aspects of death (Van Daesdonk 2007). Because of Dickinson’s immense fascination with this subject, it is interesting to compare her pieces against each other to see how her view of death changed over the years of her writing. These poems are “The Only Ghost I Ever Saw” and “How Many Times These Low Feet Staggered.” “The Only Ghost I Ever Saw” has a softer tone and composition that suggested an early fascination with death and disillusionment with the Church’s idea of death, while “How Many Times These Low Feet Staggered” has a more realistic and macabre tone and composition because of the realization of how death reveals a person’s past identity, which suggests that, in some cases, death is better than life after all. “The Only Ghost I Ever Saw,” written in 1857-62, is an example of the earlier period of Dickinson’s writing. There are many different interpretations of this piece, the most obvious one is that the poem centers on an individual who has encountered the spirit of a person and is shocked by the meeting. A deeper analysis shows the possibility of the poem being about how the speaker, or Dickinson, is forced to reassess her loyalty or belief of Christianity through the encounter of a ghost. In contrast, “How Many Times These Low Feet Staggered,” written 1890, can be recognized to belong in her later period, as its theme centers on the viewing of the corpse of a mundane housewife and the physical aspects of her death. The poem itself is in the first person persona and contains a grotesque dreary tone; and from the poem’s fascination with the corpse, the Dickinson’s frustration and obsession with death is shown. Concerning the form and structure of “The Only Ghost I ever saw,” the piece is a ballad, one of the two main forms of narrative poetry, as the poem uses the traditional ballad metre, which is made up of rhyming quatrains of alternative four-stress and three-stress lines. It is written in iambic metre which gives the poem a soft flowing, lilting rhythm, this along with the many pauses throughout the poem cause the pace to become slow and smooth, much like the movement of the poem’s subject, a ghost, would be. “How Many Times” differs from this in that the meter of the poem is iambic, the first syllable of each line is unstressed followed by a stressed one; however, the first line of the poem intentionally breaks this pattern. “ ... Read More
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