"After Great Pain A Formal Feeling comes" by Emily Dickenson.

Essay by RavenQueen67A+, April 2003

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After Great Pain A Formal Feeling Comes

After great pain a formal feeling comes--

The nerves sit ceremonious like tombs;

The stiff Heart questions--was it He that bore?

And yesterday--or centuries before?

The feet, mechanical, go round

A wooden way

Of ground, or air, or ought,

Regardless grown,

A quartz contentment, like a stone.

This is the hour of lead

Remembered if outlived,

As freezing persons recollect the snow--

First chill, then stupor, then the letting go.

Line-By-Line Interpatation

Line 1- A great pain is a formal feeling. This can relate to a funeral.

Line 2- Never sit still are the people bustling about to go to the funeral.

Line 3- The still heart (death) Questions itself.

Line 4- Death has been doing these things (taking lives) forever.

Line 5- Circle of life. Birth, Death, Rebirth, Death is an endless cycle.

Line 6- You cannot escape death.

Line 7- The displacement of any funeral goers.

Line 8- The wood was not made for a coffin but is used for it anyway.

Line 9- A monument. Stone represents being dead.

Line 10- All time is coming near, cutting down.

Line 11- Her poems will outlive her life.

Line 12- Freezing people, our thinking process.

Line 13- Process of death. The death of Emily Dickinson.

In "After great pain a formal feeling comes-" Emily Dickinson presents death from the perspective of the bereaved. This poem is written in the third person, and informs the reader as to the actions and thoughts of the mourners through an omniscient narration. In contrast, most of Dickinson's other death related poems show the reader the perspective of the dead. The vivid imagery in this poem functions to enhance the reader's perception of the poem. The following passage conveys a resplendent physical sense of coldness...