It Was Not Death, For I Stood Up Essay

This essay has a total of 486 words and 2 pages.

It Was Not Death, For I Stood Up

In the poem by Emily Dickinson "It Was Not Death, for I Stood Up," the main character has
just lost a loved one and feels such devastation that cannot be put into words, but could
only be described as "not" something. She feels such loss at her loved one's burial, that
his "burial reminded [her] of [hers]". He has been a huge part of her life, so when he
dies, that part of her dies also, and is buried with him. She cannot put the feeling of
devastation into words, for if pain can be described, it has a mortal limit and is
bearable. The pain of the character in this poem is beyond that. In philosophy, one cannot
describe chaos or God using affirmative words; one has to say "chaos is not, God is not."
Likewise in the poem, Emily Dickinson uses negations rather than affirmative statements to
describe her anguish as an intangible entity. She does not even use a word such as
"agony", or "grief" anywhere in the poem in order to emphasize that her feeling cannot be
condensed into a simple word. Instead, she describes the chaos she feels by using
negations of opposing forces, "it was not fire it was not heat", and then saying that she
feels them all at once. Emily Dickinson uses imagery to make the shock she feels more
vivid to the reader. Her life "was fitted on a frame and [she] could not breathe without a
key." This metaphor reminds the reader of the stifling feeling in the throat and gasping
for air, when one sobs violently but tears don't come. She does not have the "key". She
cannot help herself because she has lost everything, the "key" must come from somewhere
else. "And 'twas like midnight some when everything that ticked has stopped and space
stares all around." This is like the first feeling of shock, when the conception of time
and space is completely different. The feeling of shock is like hanging in the middle of
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