After Great Pain, A Formal Feeling Comes-- Essay

This essay has a total of 581 words and 2 pages.

After Great Pain, A Formal Feeling Comes--

Elements of despair evident from the inner workings of Emily Dickinson are present in her
poem, "After Great Pain, A Formal Feeling Comes--." Emily Dickinson led a difficult life
which left her alone. These feelings of sorrow and isolation have produced works by
Dickinson which question human existence and thought. Such works include the theme of
despair which is inextricably related to spiritual strivings and misgivings. They lead
inevitably to her thematic concern with man's knowledge of death and his dream of
immortality, directly relevant to "After Great Pain, A Formal Feeling Comes--."In this
poem, Emily Dickinson renders the extinction of consciousness by pain in terms of a
funeral. By paraphrasing the first stanza,After great pain, a formal feeling comes--The
Nerves sits ceremonious, like Tombs--The stiff Heart, questions was it He, that bore,And
Yesterday, or Centuries before?The reader perceives the first of three stages of a funeral
ceremony, the formal service. After the onset of suffering through death, the presence of
finality through a funeral rises. The second stanza brings with it the second stage of the
ceremony, carrying off the casket by pallbearers.The Feet, mechanical, go round--A wooden
wayOf Ground, or Air, or Ought--Regardless grown,A Quartz contentment, like a stone--The
feet of the pallbearers work rhythmically and mechanically, performing their duty. The
final stanza includes the final stage of a funeral,the burial.This is the Hour of
Lead--Remembered, if outlived,As Freezing persons, recollect the Snow--First--Chill--then
Stupor--then the letting go-- The reader notes that this is the time of finality, and of
parting with the deceased. It is also a time of final recollections, and of healing.In an
interpretation of this poem, Dickinson is neither speaking of the persona, or the funeral
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