In this work of poetry, the persona describes the struggles that she goes through, and what awaits her as she makes her journey to the place of grace (heaven) (Stanza five). As the persona nears the end of her narration, it is not clear whether her goal (place of grace/heaven) exists or not. This vagueness results from the doubtful question that the persona posts in stanza six; she is not sure whether her quest to this perceived heaven is only death’s trick that never exists.
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The persona uses mountain, sea, and desert in stanza one to depict the magnitude of struggle that she faces, and what she will possibly go through in order to achieve her goal. In stanza two, ‘horizon’ is the keyword. According to the Oxford dictionary, the word ‘horizon’ is the point/line at which the sky and earth appear to meet. By saying that her horizon blocks, the persona could be implying that her journey from earth to heaven appears to be difficult due to the obstacles described in stanza one. In stanzas three and four, the persona affirms that these obstacles would not bring her quest to a standstill. She likens the hindrances on her way to the enemy salute, which she says cannot deter her. She refers to the obstacles as competitors (stanza four) which keep her engaged in her quest.
The poet has distinctively used imagery to make her theme understandable. The use of the phrase ‘my Horizon blocks’ (Dickinson, 550) demonstrates the difficult situation that the persona is in; she is tempted to abandon this journey due to the blocked horizon. Stanza one is also full of imagery as the persona describes her ordeal using deserts, sea, and mounts, which in real life situation are physical barriers.
The poem has a number of cognate words and phrases. In stanza one, for instance, the words ‘mountain, sea and desert’ are not used to mean physical features as they are known, but have connate meanings. They all represent obstacles and sufferings that stand in the persona’s way to heaven. The poem is also rich in allusions. Take stanza two, for instance, allusion here is ‘Asiatic Rains’. Once the audiences get pictorial information of Asiatic rain, he/she is able to grasp the meaning of the stanza of the poem as a whole. In a nutshell, the persona likens the grains barricading the horizon to Asiatic rains.
In the same stanza, the simile is used to compare the ‘steady drifting unconjectured grains’ (Dickinson, 550) to ‘Asiatic rains’. Use of the word ‘as’ shows that it is a comparison of ideas. In a question mode, the last two lines of stanza six are used metaphorically and depict personification. ‘Or is this Death’s experiment reversed in victory’, that is the question the persona poses (Dickson, 550). While death is personified by the poet, the audience won’t help but metaphorically imagine the meaning of ‘death’s experiment reversed in victory’. The persona uses an emotional and pitying tone that pervades the audiences’ atmosphere, resulting in an emotional response by the audience.
The poet uses alliteration and assonance to make her work sound beautiful. In stanza five, the words ‘feet and meet’ are used at the end of the lines to bring a rhyming sensation to the poem. Stanza three has the words ‘Rest and West’ while stanza four has ‘gain and goal’. In stanza one, the use of the word ‘more’ in two consecutive lines signifies shows anaphora, that causes an appealing sensation.
In stanza one, the persona says; ‘I cross till I am weary’ (Dickinson, 550) to imply that she is in some form of journey/quest to get somewhere. This journey is however marred by obstacles that make her weary in the course of her walk. These obstacles are likened to sea, mountain, and desert that is on an individual’s path of the real journey. To further express her woes in this journey, the persona uses the phrase ‘my horizon blocks’ (Dickinson, 550) to show that the future of this journey is not certain.
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However, the persona in chapters three and four accepts that these obstacles are part of the journey to get to wherever she is going. She terms them as competitors (challenges) which she promises to counter until finally (this works for her because grace is cited in stanza five). In the last stanza, the persona expresses doubt, wondering whether this much sought for heaven exists (or is it death’s experiment reversed in victory) (Dickinson, 550).
Stanza five is suggestive of divinity as persona is talks of grace and heaven. Under normal circumstances, grace and heaven are associated with divinity and religion. Talking symbolically, she promises her feet to the entire heaven once they are there. As it is known through the literature on religion, feet don’t take people to heaven, but souls. In these last lines, therefore, the persona is promising her self rest once the struggle is over. From this explication, especially in the second last, and last stanzas, the poet describes the struggles that one undergoes on his/her quest to get to heaven. She also expresses her fears that the perceived heaven may not exist.
Dickinson, Emily. From within ‘The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson’. Ed. Johnson, Hebert. Boston: Back Bay Books. 1976. Print.