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Analysis and comments on After great pain, a formal feeling comes by Emily Dickinson

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Comment 10 of 500, added on March 18th, 2006 at 3:59 PM.

I think this poem is about dying. First, after 'great pain, a formal
feeling comes' means that nothing is felt after the endured pain. Then
'The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs' and echoes lifelessness. This is
comparable to the last stanza when 'As Freezing persons, recollect the
Snow-- First--Chill(pain)--then Stupor(unconsciousness)--then letting
go(death)--'



JehJar from United States
Comment 9 of 500, added on October 24th, 2005 at 7:09 PM.

Dickinson is a master of brevity. Just look at the comments on it, there is
scarcely one shorter than the actual poem. This reminds me of Sonnet 73 in
the way it lays down the last line. The "Chill" is the first paragraph, The
"Stupor" of the mechanical feet and the rock like "Quartz contentment of
"the letting go"

When I try to Briefly describe Dickinson it is usually in three letters:
Wow. That shows mt tact compared to hers.

Dustin Martens from Canada
Comment 8 of 500, added on June 7th, 2005 at 10:03 AM.

i feel she is an inspirational poet who deserves to be reconigsed for her
great works

emily young from Ireland
Comment 7 of 500, added on June 3rd, 2005 at 1:07 AM.

I think this poem is about a shooting of some kind. The numbness you feel
after being shot. The mechanical feet go round sounds and what I picture is
an armys feet all going at the same time, looking mechanical. I think the
hour of lead is symbolizeing when the bullet struck.

HAli from United States
Comment 6 of 500, added on February 2nd, 2005 at 11:42 AM.

i agree with what everyone has said about this poem. it haas to do with
her-self or a person that has just went through a trouble lost. The
emotional scaring/pain that the person is goin through is causeing so much
agony to that the person, that they begin to lose all feeling and is left
with nothing but a lost and transfixed mental state. the one thing that i
do not understand is what the significanc of the hour lead has to do with
anything. if anyone can fill me in on that, it would be most appreciated.

JAY from Canada
Comment 5 of 500, added on November 23rd, 2004 at 11:23 AM.

I think Emily Dickinson depicts a few aspects of the grieiving process.
When grieving, one goes through a phase of numbness. This could also be
seen as denial. Your actions are so mechanical. In the immediate days
follwing a death of a loved one, you seem the strongest in order to help
you get through the funeral. You plan the music, order flowers, write the
obituary. After the funeral, you come to the point of "snapping out of it"
or "letting go" and having to acutally deal with your pain. This is when
the difficult grieiving process really begins.

Joanna Merrell from United States
Comment 4 of 500, added on November 14th, 2004 at 10:53 PM.

I think Emily's insight about pain rings equally true for a great physical
pain, which can be quite traumatizing to the psyche. While in the recovery
room after a very long, rough childbirth experience, I heard the nurses
comment to each other with concern, that I seemed too quiet and
unresponsive. I felt just exactly like what Emily describes in this poem.





Maya from United States
Comment 3 of 500, added on November 13th, 2004 at 11:19 PM.

We all know that Dickinson grappled with depression and to me, the last
line is a mild reference to Death or (a death) itself; continuing to live
as if it's an out-of-body experience. "The Feet, mechanical, go round"; as
if there's no Purpose to living one's Life or steps that we take are just a
"formality" -- in a Zombie (tomb) like state (going through the "motions")
because it's so frightening to actually end one's own life; hence she goes
on living with this "formal" feeling as in -- NO feeling, whatsoever.

Rennie Helder from United States
Comment 2 of 500, added on September 28th, 2004 at 10:44 PM.

Such a great poet and her use of image is so contemporary, although written
in the middle 1800s. Dickinson describes the physical/emotional states of
grief or other deep emotion. It is the extremity of such emotional states
and the searing honesty and clarity of description which gives power to
this writing.
The line, 'After great pain, a formal feeling comes - the nerves sit
ceremonious, like Tombs - ', lyrically tells of the held in retraction
after an outpouring of pain. This is sustained by words and phrases such
as, 'stiff Heart', 'mechanical', 'Wooden way', 'like a stone'. This state
is then followed with the inevitable 'freezing' that comes with depression,
a shutting down, described as 'A Quartz contentment, like a stone'. I saw
'contentment' as the welcome numbness after searing pain. This is furthered
with 'Chill', 'Stupor', 'then the letting go', which I saw as resignation
and a sense of defeat, the emotional cut-off of depression.


Bavali from Australia
Comment 1 of 500, added on August 29th, 2004 at 11:28 PM.

This has been a favorite poem of mine when I am feeling distressed by past
traumas invading my life again. It rings so true to what I experience, time
and again. After the pain, I attempt to minimize it, catalog it, "...then
the letting go."

jean dalloway from United States

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Information about After great pain, a formal feeling comes

Poet: Emily Dickinson
Poem: 341. After great pain, a formal feeling comes
Volume: Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson
Year: 1955
Added: Jan 9 2004
Viewed: 72556 times
Poem of the Day: Nov 8 2003


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