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Dickinson’s Poetry

Emily Dickinson

“The Brain—is wider than the Sky—”

“I heard a Fly buzz—when I died—...”

Study Questions & Essay Topics

Summary

The speaker declares that the brain is wider than the sky, for if they are held side by side, the brain will absorb the sky “With ease—and You—beside.” She says that the brain is deeper than the sea, for if they are held “Blue to Blue,” the brain will absorb the sea as sponges and buckets absorb water. The brain, the speaker insists, is the “weight of God”—for if they are hefted “Pound for Pound,” the brain’s weight will differ from the weight of God only in the way that syllable differs from sound.

Form

This poem employs all of Dickinson’s familiar formal patterns: it consists of three four-line stanzas metered iambically, with tetrameter used for the first and third lines of each stanza and trimeter used for the second and fourth lines; it follows ABCB rhyme schemes in each stanza; and uses the long dash as a rhythmic device designed to break up the flow of the meter and indicate short pauses.

Commentary

Another of Dickinson’s most famous poems, “The Brain—is wider than the Sky—” is in many ways also one of her easiest to understand—a remarkable fact, given that the poem’s theme is actually the quite complicated relationship between the mind and the outer world. Using the homiletic mode that characterizes much of her early poetry—”the brain is wider than the sky” is as homiletic a statement as “success is counted sweetest by those who ne’er succeed”—, Dickinson testifies to the mind’s capacity to absorb, interpret, and subsume perception and experience. The brain is wider than the sky despite the sky’s awesome size because the brain is able to incorporate the universe into itself, and thereby even to absorb the ocean. The source of this capacity, in this poem, is God. In an astonishing comparison Dickinson likens the minds capabilities to “the weight of God”, differing from that weight only as syllable differs from sound.

This final stanza reads quite easily, but is actually rather complex—it is difficult to know precisely what Dickinson means. The brain differs from God, or from the weight of God, as syllable differs from sound; the difference between syllable and sound is that syllable is given human structure as part of a word, while sound is raw, unformed. Thus Dickinson seems to conceive of God here as an essence that takes its form from that of the human mind.

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The Brain is than the Sky' Dickinson crossword

by crosswords1, September 28, 2013

This time, we got the following crossword puzzle clue : The Brain is than the Sky' Dickinson that also known as The Brain is than the Sky' Dickinson 5 letters . First, we gonna look for more hints to the The Brain is than the Sky' Dickinson crossword puzzle . Then we will collect all the require information and for solving The Brain is than the Sky' Dickinson crossword . In the final, we get all the possible answers for the this crossword puzzle definition.
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Hope poem analysis

by Nerradnahc, February 21, 2014

What is hope? Hope is what gives someone the feeling that they still can succeed even when everything is against them. It gives someone the will to go on even when there is only a small chance. In the poem “Hope” the poet Emily Dickinson describes hope as an never ending greatness that “perches in the soul”, it’s inside you and keeps you warm. Hope can not be put down easily and never ask for anything even in tough times. In this poem, Emily Dickinson describes hope as a lively, confident bird that go against chillest land and stra... Read more

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Biblical Allusion

by 14elusky, April 13, 2014

I think it's possible that this poem has a biblical allusion when it refers to the bird. Dickinson was raised in the transcendentalist era, and there was a lot of criticism oriented around the bible. The allusion could be that Jesus was said to give bread to people of poverty. He then told them not to eat the bread without giving the crumbs to the bird. I think this relates to the poem because man and nature was seen as one, while now they are considered to be vastly divided.

I'm not religious so I have no idea if this is correct or ... Read more

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8 out of 9 people found this helpful

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