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A Poem and a Loaded Gun

Essay by review  •  February 8, 2011  •  Essay  •  1,108 Words (5 Pages)  •  888 Views

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A Poem and a Loaded Gun

The post civil war era was wrought with sexism and backwards thinking. Emily Dickinson was born in 1830, wrote 1800 poems in her lifetime. She has become known for unfolding the social boundaries surrounding women in this time period. Most of her life was shrouded in seclusion and mystery. In the realm of poetry, authors are creative with their usage of literary techniques in order to illustrate their point of view to the reader. Emily Dickinson is especially known for her precise diction, powerful imagery, and obscure timing or rhythm. In her poem "My life had stood - A loaded Gun," she is heavily dependent

on the use of images, eloquent diction and tone to convey both the literal and symbolic meaning or themes to the reader.

The author's use of certain images is important to the theme of the poem because they define the setting and they set the mood for the different parts of the poem. The first image introduced to the reader is that of the loaded gun. This is one of the most powerful images throughout the poem as it is, as we find, out also the speaker. A the first thing that is brought to the readers mind is the aurora of potential. The sheer potential for destruction and death that is associated with a loaded gun sets the mood for the rest of the poem to build from. The next image that is introduced is that of the "Corners." This can be understood in multiple contexts. The first being a crossroads, a corner is an intersection between two walls or metaphorically two paths. The second interpretation is that of a dark and shadowy place for someone to lye in wait. Both of the interpretations are equally significant and the authors diction here was surely intentional. This image is particularly important because it defines the opening setting of the speaker. The following images such as "Sovereign Woods," "Doe," and "Mountains" serve to change the setting. In the next stanza images such as "cordial light," "valley glow," and "Vesuvian face" serve to change the mood to an eerie almost frightening allusion to power. The next images "Yellow Eye," and "emphatic Thumb" are incorporated into the poem to further the setting of this mood.

The author's diction and tone in the second stanza move the poem thematically forward by building rhythm. This change in rhythm indicates a change in the author's tone. The author builds this rhythm by the repetition of the word "And" and the repetition of the word "now." This change in tone indicates a change in the speakers mood and a change in the speakers setting. The faster pace and constant beats provide for a significant change from the broken up stand still qualities of the first stanza. The mood portrayed here is that of eventfulness, even usefulness, it is apparent that the speaker feels more fulfilled or somehow more whole.

Also in the second stanza the author introduces the theme of unity between speaker and master by use of her diction. Albert Gelpi, anther notable critic of Dickinson's work, points out that "already by the second stanza "I" and "he" have become "we"...the rhythm and repetition underscoring the momentous change of identity." By doing this the author introduces the theme of possession vs. possessed and the inherent contradiction of the concept, referencing the fact that one cannot be without the other.

The second notable use of interesting diction can be found in the speaker's description of her smile. She "compares her smile to the aftermath of a volcanic eruption." This notable according to Christine Miller, a notable commentator of Dickinson's work, because she does not compare it to an event but to "a completed action." She says the "past perfect verb is more chilling than the present tense would be." Miller notes this same technique later in the poem when the speaker describes guarding as more fulfilling than sharing her masters pillow. Miller describes this technique as "contrasting action

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