Emily Dickinson - The Feet Of People Walking Home Essay

This essay has a total of 936 words and 5 pages.

Emily Dickinson - The Feet Of People Walking Home


One of Emily Dickinson's poems, formally titled "The feet of people walking home," is of
some interest in its own merit. Unlike some of Dickinson's other poems, such as the ones
that exist among other versions due to a few dissimilarities, this poem is duplicated
verbatim. To the untrained eye, this triviality would often be overlooked, were it not for
the fact that Emily Dickinson had not intended on publishing many of her poems. Why, then,
did she duplicate this poem? Perhaps a more in-depth analysis of the poem, as well as the
current events in Dickinson's life, would answer this query. Estimated to have been
written in the year 1858, the poem begins its first stanza by conveying the emotions of
gaiety and joyfulness, which are associated with passage to heaven. A much more somber
note pervades the second stanza, in which Dickinson uses metaphors to compare the entrance
to heaven with the act of theft. The third stanza combines the previous two by hinting at
the theory that those who are already in heaven do not want more people entering heaven's
gates, because that would diminish the high status that heaven and angels hold.


The tone in the first stanza is of joyousness and excitement, as people make their way to
heaven. Dickinson uses the words "gayer," "hallelujah," and "singing" to emphasize the
uplifting feeling here. It could be argued that this is the point in the humans' lives (or
deaths, or afterlives, depending on how one looks at it) when they reach the pinnacle of
happiness, for they have finally entered heaven. The humans, now dead, would then acquire
wings, immortality, and an angelic status that rises far above that of humans. Much like
Dickinson's other poems, this one uses metaphors to represent similar things, such as
"home," which represents "heaven," "snow," which represents the "clouds" on which heaven
resides, and "vassals," which represents the "angels" who serve God.


The second stanza shares a relation to the first, but it could be described as being
completely opposite in tone. Dickinson uses the words "extorted," "larceny," and "death"
to emphasize the crime that is personified here. Dickinson uses more metaphors in this
stanza to compare the onrush of people entering heaven to divers who take pearls from the
sea. In both cases, a sense of "value" is diminished, or perhaps even lost. Referring back
to the first stanza, Dickinson subtly states that the status of angels would no longer be
as honorable or magnificent as it is now if everyone were to acquire wings, achieve
immortality, and enter heaven. As with the pearls under the sea, the value attributed to
angels is inversely proportional to the number in known existence. More pearls out of the
sea would be comparable to more angels in heaven. Their values are derived from their
rarity.


The third stanza continues by combining the previous two, as well as taking into
consideration the feelings of the angels, whom Dickinson believes are enraged at the
"extortion" of their honor and magnificence. Dickinson metaphorically describes the
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