A reading of a classic Dickinson poem
Emily Dickinson (1830-86) wrote many poems about death. She also wrote often, and insightfully, about depression, and ‘It was not Death, for I stood up’ is a powerful evocation of what it feels like to be gripped and paralysed by this debilitating emotion. Below is the poem, along with some notes towards an analysis of it. If it was not Death, what was it? A kind of death, at any rate.
It was not Death, for I stood up,
And all the Dead, lie down—
It was not Night, for all the Bells
Put out their Tongues, for Noon.
It was not Frost, for on my Flesh
I felt Siroccos—crawl—
Nor Fire—for just my Marble feet
Could keep a Chancel, cool— Read the rest of this entry
A summary of a fine Blake poem
‘Spring’ is not one of William Blake’s most famous poems. The poem was first published in Blake’s 1789 collection Songs of Innocence. It’s a glorious celebration of the arrival of spring, exploring the harmony of man with the natural world and some of Blake’s more popular themes: childhood, innocence, and nature being three of the most prominent.
Sound the flute!
Now it’s mute!
Day and night,
In the dale,
Lark in sky,—
Merrily merrily, to welcome in the year. Read the rest of this entry
A reading of a classic poem
‘Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night’ is probably the best-known villanelle in English poetry. If you’re not sure what a villanelle is, don’t worry – it’s not important right now. But it’s one reason why the poem is worth reading. The other is that ‘Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night’ is one of Dylan Thomas’s most famous, and finest, poems. You can read it here. What follows constitutes our analysis of this poem of brave defiance in the face of certain death.
A number of Dylan Thomas’s poems offer a sinewy, unsentimental approach to death: in another poem, he offers his reasons for refusing to mourn the death of a child in the London Blitz. In ‘Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night’, the death he concerns himself with is somewhat closer to home: his own father’s. But Thomas’s own demise would follow not long after he composed these defiant words for his father, so the poem might also, oddly, be read as autobiographical, in a quasi-prophetic sort of way. Read the rest of this entry