Analysis Of The Poem ' After Great Pain ' By Emily Dickinson Essay

961 Words Nov 4th, 2016 4 Pages
In Poem 341, commonly referred to by the opening phrase, “After Great Pain,” Emily Dickinson performs an “autopsy of grief” by dissecting the turmoil of the speaker -- allowing the reader to enter the headspace of a person who has experienced a tragedy (ppt). Within each stanza, the speaker travels along the stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance. However, just like the actual grieving process, Dickinson does not give the poem a finite resolution, but instead hints at the true cyclical nature of grief.
According to psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, the first stage of grief is denial, so naturally, Stanza 1 opens with a very numb speaker having a lot of questions (Smith). In order to convey the true stock and lack of emotions the individual feels, their “Nerves” and “Heart” are personified. In Line 2, their “Nerves sit ceremonious” -- without connecting the speaker to the outside world, without letting them feel. The second stage of grief, anger, is evident in the next line when their “stiff Heart questions ‘was it He, that bore?’” alluding to the speaker questioning their religion (Line 3) (Smith). They frustratedly wonder if Jesus Christ really did bear the load of the cross because to them, it feels as if the weight of the cross in on their shoulders instead of His. Within this condition, the individual has even forgotten how long ago the tragedy occurred, stating it could have been “Yesterday, or Centuries before” (Line 4).…

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