After a great pain a formal feeling comes by Emily Dickenson
In her poem After a great pain a formal feeling comes Emily Dickenson focuses on the experiences of a person who has suffered emotional suffering. The author uses various images to show the dehumanizing effect of this distress on the inner world of a human being who can become very callous.
This is one of the possible responses to this suffering. This paper will examine the form and structure of the poem, the tone of the writer, and the themes that Emily Dickenson explores or emphasizes in her work.
By discussing these issues, one can better understand the beauty of Emily Dickenson’s poetry. I have chosen this poem because Emily Dickenson succeeds in examining the most complex psychological problems within three stanzas.
The brevity and complexity of this poem greatly appealed to me. This is why I think that this literary work is worth attention.
First of all, one should note that the author uses third-person narrative when describing the experiences of an individual. She places more stress on the feeling of a person who can be either male or female.
In this way, Emily Dickenson strives to show that emotional suffering can produce devastating effects on every individual. No one is safeguarded against such a trauma. So, one can say that Emily Dickenson gives voice to universal experience.
It is difficult to determine when or where the poem is set. One can only conjecture that the author describes the aftermath of suffering and the inner world of an individual who could have been hurt in some way.
The readers of this poem have to remember that Emily Dickenson could speak on behalf of many people who sustained emotional trauma.
It is also necessary to discuss the structure of the poem. It contains three stanzas and each of the stanzas has a different number of lines. One cannot say that the author wanted to adhere to a particular type of verse.
For instance, Emily Dickenson prefers iambic parameter which means that the stress is usually placed on the every second syllable, but she does always follow this metrical foot in every case.
For example, one can look at the following line, ‘First chill, then stupor, then the letting go’ (Dickenson unpaged). Secondly, one should notice that the number of words varies from three to eight.
Overall, these examples indicate that Emily Dickenson was more concerned with expressive means that could best describe the feelings of the narrator and she did not want to be limited by one literary form. These are the structural peculiarities of the poem.
The theme of the literary work is probably the most important issue that should be closely analyzed because the author highlights very complex psychological problems that an individual can encounter.
Emily Dickenson places emphasis on the experiences of a person on whom emotional pain has been inflicted. She strives to demonstrate that this form of suffering can be much more severe that a physical trauma, because an individual can become insensitive, callous, or indifferent.
This is one of the responses to emotional trauma. Overall, this person can lose some of the attributes that distinguish a human being from a mere mechanism.
This lack of sensitivity can be regarded as a shield against the suffering. Emily Dickenson uses different metaphors in order to illustrate this point. For instance, one can look at the following lines,
“The feet, mechanical, go round
A wooden way” (Dickenson unpaged)
In this case, the words “mechanical and “wooden” indicate that emotional suffering deprive a person of his/her humanity (Dickenson unpaged).
Moreover, she creates an excellent oxymoron “quartz contentment” that shows how this person may feel (Dickenson unpaged).
The author compares this individual to inanimate objects like a stone or wood and in this way she strives to show that callousness can be a response to emotional suffering.
This is how the writer gives the readers insights into the inner world of the narrator.
The author’s tone implies that she is compassionate for a person who has endured great suffering. This poem shows that the effects of such an event are very difficult to overcome.
This is why she says, “this is the hour of lead remembered if outlived” (Dickenson unpaged). However, the use of oxymoron like “quartz contentment” indicates that she is also slightly ironic.
Yet, her irony is directed against people who believe that emotional distress does not harm a person in any way. One cannot say for sure that Emily Dickenson describes her own experiences.
However, her poem is very insightful; it seems to be based on first-hand experiences. This realism is probably the main strength of this literary work.
Certainly, Emily Dickenson’s could have tried to express more than one idea. Probably, she wants to say that the feelings of an individual can be very vulnerable, and one should be very careful when speaking about the emotional life of a person.
People should know that their words can have an extremely adverse influence on the feelings of others even if one cannot detect the effects at first glance.
Dickenson Emily. After a great pain a formal feeling comes. 12. Aug. 1999. Web. <https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/47651/after-great-pain-a-formal-feeling-comes-372>.