Dickinson, “This World is not Conclusion”

Faith is the central theme in this poem, yet Dickinson seems to be mocking it. She begins by saying “a species stands beyond”. It is a sure thing that humans will not be the last thing living; something else will come after us. However, with this sureness that a new generation will come, Dickinson says that it ‘baffles’ (perplexes) us and sagacity ‘must go’  (good judgement). Dickinson now brings uneasiness to the idea of faith; people must lose reason and have trust in something that is not visible/tangible to lead their lives to believe there is a life after us. Faith is not built on reason, it is built on belief, not judgement; that is why faith is not on stable ground. She goes on to say that faith ‘laughs’ and ‘rallies’ and people try to find the tiniest piece of evidence to keep on believing. She uses the word ‘twig’ probably to unify the poem since she previously uses ‘Crucifixion’, and Jesus wore a headpiece with thorns so the word twig applies here. Dickinson ends with talking about narcotics (drugs) to maybe show that faith leads people to drugs because faith is so unstable and so unproved that people need something to stabilize their lives when all they ever leaned back on was something that could never be tested or proven. This whole poem was a way for Dickinson to mock Faith.

via Dickinson, “This World is not Conclusion”.

Dickinson, “The Only Ghost I Ever Saw”

The poem is about the only ghost the narrator ever saw. The ghost is described as wearing a heavy lace with no shoes of any kind, and he walks fast but quietly and gently. His manner was unusually angelic, old-fashioned, and merrily. So far, the only part that struck me as odd was his manner because ghosts are usually seen as creepy, but they are usually viewed as quiet and quick. Anyway, the narrator talks to the shy ghost and he laughs and seems to be described as acting as if a human being, normally. Their conversation is short, which is maybe why the poem is short; to parallel the two.

What also peaked my interest was the short duration of their conversation. Does the short period represent a living human’s life duration? Or maybe the ghost does not or cannot reveal anything about the ‘secrets’ of life?

After reading Josh’s post about that the holy spirit is usually absent and silent, I thought that maybe the ghost represented evil and temptation. The ghost is wearing a lace fabric which is eye appealing and brings the stranger in. The ghost talking and laughing is unusual all on its own because it is showing that it is welcoming. The fact that ‘god forbids’ the narrator to look back brings home the fact that the ghost is evil.

via Dickinson, “The Only Ghost I Ever Saw”.

Dickinson, “I Felt a Funeral in My Brain”

    The funeral that the narrator is describing does not seem to be the central meaning of the poem, rather the effects of it is what stands out. I mean that she describes several people gathering and seating, but when they move around and seat themselves, what does the narrator focus on? Their movements. The treading and the beating. Since this funeral is happening in the brain, the movements (treading and beating) might correlate to the narrator having a headache or migraine. So, the narrator is under stress or is ill. The grammar and sentences are understandable throughout the poem until the end: “And Finished knowing – then -“. A ‘Plank of Reason’ is said to be broken, so maybe the narrator is sick or mentally ill, and he/she is dying. The end of the poem might not make sense because she is losing conscious or she is dying and cannot think straight anymore. The poem, to me, is basically about a person who is dying from a mental illness and dies at the end. 

via Dickinson, “I Felt a Funeral in My Brain”.

Poe, “Eldorado”

To begin, Eldorado is a fictitious country that is said to have a lot of gold. The knight in the poem is in search for Eldorado and eventually becomes an old man without ever finding it. With this in mind, it seems that since it is a fictitious place, Eldorado does not simply mean a place. The knight thinks it is a tangible piece of land with gold, but since he is not finding it, it seems that Eldorado means something less physical and more mental. Maybe Poe means that we are searching for something that is more soul worthy, such as love, wisdom, or acceptance, yet some people, such as the knight, keep trying to find tangible objects, such as gold, to make them happy.

Also, when Poe first uses the word ‘shadow’, he means a shadow made from blocking out the sun. But in the third stanza, he uses ‘shadow’ as meaning ghost. This transition to something more personal, such as a ghost, parallels with the idea that Eldorado used to mean gold and land, but later in life, it means something more spiritual, something more personal.

via Poe, “Eldorado”.

Poe, “The Valley of Unrest”

When I read this poem, I was confused as to what Poe was describing until the end; he was describing a valley of graves (I think). The tone of the poem is quite sorrowful, especially when the lilies are described: “They wave:—from out their fragrant tops / External dews come down in drops. / They weep:—from off their delicate stems / Perennial tears descend in gems”. The flowers are being personified as if they are crying for the ‘nameless grave’. Does anyone see any hidden meanings here? I found it hard to look deep into this poem.


via Poe, “The Valley of Unrest”.

Poe, “Annabel Lee”

I am going to make a few assumptions on a couple of things…

First, this wind that chills and kills Annabel Lee, does Poe mean the weather (winter) got Annabel Lee sick and she died? Or does wind mean Death? Death came by and chose her? I think it is Death because it says “the wind came out of the cloud by night”. Death is usually associated with darkness and the poem makes no reference or hints about the season being winter.

Second, Annabel Lee is taken to “this kingdom by the sea”. I think Poe purposely put her by the sea because there is a saying that love can run as deep as the ocean. The sea represents the depth of their love for one another. And since their love is like no other, it is fitting she is near the sea for eternity because it shows their love will last forever, like the sea.

Third, I was confused on why the narrator thinks their love is above everyone else’s: “But our love it was stronger by far than the love / Of those who were older than we— / Of many far wiser than we—”. Was it stronger because it continued after her death? Because the shared a childhood together? Any thoughts?

via Poe, “Annabel Lee”.

Poe, “The Black Cat” (story)

I am not really sure how to interpret this story, but the part that interested me was that the cats and his wife never did anything for the man to hate them. Pets are supposed to be loving and understanding to their owners and vise versa. Pluto, the black cat, “attended me wherever I went about the house. It was even with difficulty that I could prevent him from following me through the streets”. The man even states that he had to kill the cat because the cat loved him. Pluto only starts to avoid him when the man becomes ill-tempered and cuts out his eye. When the next cat comes, the man is again followed by this cat, and becomes agitated again. What is different this time is that the cat takes on affection for the man and his wife. Obviously, the wife cares for the man, yet the man kills her. The man seems to hate anything that likes him, so does that mean he does not accept himself? He does not see himself worthy as a person? When he kills his wife, he only cares about being caught, not that he just killed his own wife. Also, the second cat, who has white on him, does not get killed by the man. Even though the cat is hidden with the corpse, does the man’s inability to kill the white cat show that the white cat represents something holy?

via Poe, “The Black Cat” (story).

Poe, “Hop-Frog” (story)

The narrator keeps referring to the king and his seven men as fat, but does not know why liking jokes and being fat has any correlation to one another. Maybe there is no link between the two, but usually people who are overweight mean they are careless with their bodies. The king and his men being careless links to them being obese and them being disrespectful to Hop-Frog. The king disregards the fact that Hop-Frog does not like alcohol and he misses his home country; yet, he forces wine down his throat and tells him to remember his friends back home.

Also, again, we have another story that deals with social status. The king and his seven men are nobility, and they think it gives them the right to make fun of their jesters. Yet again, Poe proves that status means nothing by having Hop-Frog outsmart the king. The nobility think they can get away with anything and break the rules all the time, but Poe is showing that the lower class people, such as the jesters, are human beings too; they have feelings and are clever. Another thing to mention is that mostly everyone in the story has a physical abnormality, whether it be being crippled or being fat or being a dwarf. I think Poe is trying to say that no one should be treated differently or disrespectfully because of their condition. What matters is their personality, and the king and his men obviously have bad intentions; whereas, Hop-Frog and Trippetta have truly good intentions.

via Poe, “Hop-Frog” (story).

Poe, “The Tell-tale Heart”

What I found interesting was that the narrator was more emotional than the old man: “do you mark me well I have told you that I am nervous”. He claims not to be insane, yet his emotions seem to say that he knows he is mad. Also, despite the obvious reasons of why he is insane (the killing, the dead heart, etc), the fact that he constantly defends himself to the reader that he is not mad, shows that he is. Usually people that are so defensive are defensive because they know they are guilty of being what they say they are not. However, after reading three works by Poe for Friday, I get this sense that the characters he writes about are not as stupid or unaware as they seem. Or maybe Poe is messing with the idea of the subconscious. Okay, so the man hides the DEAD body so the heart cannot be beating, right? Yet, he hears it; therefore, his mind is creating this sound of beating. Ultimately, he cannot take it anymore and reveals his secret to the police. Subconsciously, does the man want to be known as insane? He caused his own downfall and allowed other people to know about it. Also, in the Raven, the man asks about things in the past, like Lenore, that cannot be changed, yet he asks about them. Maybe, now that I think about it, Poe could be playing around with the theme of reality. The characters do not want to face reality, whether that be about their surroundings or their identity, so they deny it, but the characters are the ones who come to the conclusion of the present reality. Poe is saying that ultimately we think we want to deny reality, but in all honestly, we want to face it.

via Poe, “The Tell-tale Heart”.

Poe, “The Raven”

I think it is interesting that Poe says “For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore— / Nameless here for evermore”, because I think Poe is saying that Lenore no longer exists with the living, only with the angels; yet, the man in the poem asks the Raven about Lenore and asks get rid of the grief over the deceased woman. The Raven says ‘nevermore’, which may mean that he will never get over her death or that Lenore no longer exists. The man asks about the Plutonian shore and if there is balm in Gilead to the Raven, yet he constantly answers with Nevermore. These past Greek references are constantly mentioned throughout the poem. The man gets angrier and more inquisitive towards the bird, and the bird merely replies one word and does not move. I think this shows the man’s frustration with events that he cannot change, yet wishes for them to, like Lenore’s death. The Raven’s composure and stationary position seems to represent the things that the man cannot change. 

The Raven is sitting on a bust of Pallas, which is a Greek mythological name for the Athena. Athena is the goddess of wisdom and courage. It makes sense to place the Raven on top of Athena because the Raven is being courageous and brave by confronting the man with reality that nothing will change the past. The Raven, like Athena, is wise because he, not only knows the truth of reality, but he is able to face it head on and not deny it by saying Nevermore. Does this make any sense?

via Poe, “The Raven”.