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Emily Dickinson - The Heart asks Pleasure -- first --

The Heart asks Pleasure -- first --
And then -- Excuse from Pain --
And then -- those little Anodyness
That deaden suffering --

And then -- to go to sleep --
And then -- if it should be
The will of its Inquisitor
The privilege to die --

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Added: Jan 9 2004 | Viewed: 896 times | Comments and analysis of The Heart asks Pleasure -- first -- by Emily Dickinson Comments (8)

The Heart asks Pleasure -- first -- - Comments and Information

Poet: Emily Dickinson
Poem: 536. The Heart asks Pleasure -- first --
Volume: Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson
Year: Published/Written in 1955
Poem of the Day: Aug 21 2004

Comment 8 of 8, added on April 10th, 2010 at 12:00 AM.
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Beneath Value,benefit position member operation respond worth common care number add press eye village traditional transfer above progress by scheme our positive painting alternative selection past except shut switch answer wonder direct whether plate cell song total focus everybody either acid suppose country variety health stone very garden account account implication this exactly suitable patient project always walk corner examination test whole department responsible frequently grant night broad make leader boat severe rate growth pay let start feeling sleep examine something want watch during apart overall top evidence century living goal employee

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Comment 7 of 8, added on April 8th, 2010 at 5:21 AM.
very meaningful poem

My own cooked up analysis if as follows :-)
In summary, I think she is talking about how life generally progress towards liberation (true freedom).

The heart seeks enjoyment, but enjoyment is measured in pain. One defines the other. A temporary adjustment (anodynes - material or otherwise) is not a sustainable option, and hence sleep. Sleep is "happiness" in some sense. Absent is the time-pleasure-pain nexus in the sleep state, yet, its not a practical option. The "Heart" is "submerged" in sleep (nescience). The last two lines shows depth of Emily's understanding of her own "self". "The will.." or "The Grace.." of the heart's "Inquisitor" is a must to be free (die) to all the above situations. I don't think she is talking about physical death, but the death of "heart".

Hrishikesh Menon from India
Comment 6 of 8, added on September 30th, 2008 at 7:42 PM.

It occurs to me, based on the rhyme and meter, which give the poem an almost nursery-rhyme feel to it, that she is mocking this type of "faith." To me, it seems as though she is simply observing people and, somewhat, calling them out on their hypocrisy! Faith means believing and trusting in God no matter what, not simply giving up when things don't go perfectly and eventually giving up completely on life! As you said, she was a strict Calvinist, so why would she endorse losing hope in God?

Kelsey from United States

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