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We grow accustomed to the dark

Poetry Analysis of Emily Dickinson's poem
by

Kaitlyn Quigley

on 15 May 2013

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Transcript of We grow accustomed to the dark

By Emily Dickinson We Grow Accustomed to the Dark Title Figurative Language Shift Attitude Theme Structure Must be noted that the title is simply the first line of the poem as Dickinson did not name her poems. The poems were not named simply because she had never intended for them to be published. However, the title has significant meaning to us as becoming use to hardships that life brings, possibly in the form of death or sickness. The tone of the poem is melanholy and one of dejection, but after the shift, (stanza 4) it shifts to a more hopeful tone.
The mood of the poem is gloomy and desolate, but after the shift (stanza 4), it changes to create a more optimistic mood. The second shift occurs in stanza 4 when there is a change in the tone and mood of the poem. It shifts from a mood/tone of hopelessness and pessimism to optimism and hope. The symbol of the tree shows creates a shift showing that there is always a way out of ignorance and it creates a hope for knowledge and enlightenment


- GROPE A LITTLE
-SOMETIMES HIT A TREE
-AS THEY LEARN TO SEE
-LIFE STEPS ALMOST STRAIGHT AGAIN Growing accustomed to the Dark means to us now as not only accepting the struggles life brings but in familiarizing yourself to the degree that you overcome the obstacles are made stronger by your experiences. Paraphrase Stanza 1 We grow accustomed to the Dark --
When light is put away --
As when the Neighbor holds the Lamp
To witness her Goodbye -- We are forced to get used to hardships when we are left alone and there are no distractions. Stanza 2 A Moment -- We uncertain step
For newness of the night --
Then -- fit our Vision to the Dark --
And meet the Road -- erect -- We adapt our life to focus on the obstacles and hardships. Stanza 3 And so of larger -- Darkness --
Those Evenings of the Brain --
When not a Moon disclose a sign --
Or Star -- come out -- within -- There are nights when the sorrows is plaguing your thoughts when not even lustrous hopes or distant goals can save you from yourself Stanza 4 The Bravest -- grope a little --
And sometimes hit a Tree
Directly in the Forehead --
But as they learn to see -- The bravest face their inner demons head on, sometimes being struck uglier and sicker side of life, yet they persist and see beyond the ugly side of life. Stanza 5 Either the Darkness alters --
Or something in the sight
Adjusts itself to Midnight --
And Life steps almost straight again Either the struggles shape you or you learn to shape your struggles and rise above them to continue on with your life. We grow accustomed to the Dark --
When light is put away --
As when the Neighbor holds the Lamp
To witness her Goodbye -- A Moment -- We uncertain step
For newness of the night --
Then -- fit our Vision to the Dark --
And meet the Road -- erect -- Newness of the night is an alliteration that creates a sense of peace that contrasts the current sense of distortment the poet is obviously feeling during this time of her life. Road is a symbol of life or the path that life takes you. Roads can twist and turn which makes it a suitable comparison for life. It was a universal symbol during this time period, and was used by many, including Robert Frost. And so of larger -- Darkness --
Those Evenings of the Brain --
When not a Moon disclose a sign --
Or Star -- come out -- within -- Moon and Star are both used as symbols of hope or of a far out of reach goal that makes all the obstacles worth something. And the fact that they cannot help you suggests that this is a journey undertaken alone and ones struggles cannot be overcome by hope, acceptance and understanding is necessary. The tree is a symbol for life. Trees can be used to display sickness, as one branch can poison the whole tree if it is not cut away. The bravest people take a step forward in the darkness and are smacked with the branches or the hard labors of life. Yet if they keep moving closer, they learn the shape of the tree and can touch the trunk of the tree that is makes up core of the tree and represents stability of the tree and the light can begin to shine through the tree branches. Either the Darkness alters --
Or something in the sight
Adjusts itself to Midnight --
And Life steps almost straight again Dark vs Light: Dark is symbolized throughout the poem as ignorance, obstacles and struggles while light is knowledge and purity. This poem explores the constant battle against darkness, and how most people choose to accept and live with it while others fight to escape its clutches and find the light Darkness is a symbol for the hopelessness and desolate nature of loss or hardships. Light is a symbol for hope and positivity in life. The neighbor leaving is a simile used to for a physical representation of the deprivation of light. The light leaves with the neighbor, leaving you to encompassed by the shadows created on the edge of the light. Diction of lamp indicated the time period in which this poem was written in the seventeenth century. Vision is a symbol for mindset. The mindset (outlook) fit to the dark, suggest a grim outlook to life that is rigid and negative in nature. Evenings of the Brain is used as a reference to times when all you do is think. The setting is in the evening to set the imagery of day being overwhelmed by night, just as ones hopes being overcome by ones disparities. And not even reminders of hopes and goals, can eclipse the sorrows brought on by darker thoughts. The Bravest -- grope a little --
And sometimes hit a Tree
Directly in the Forehead --
But as they learn to see -- Midnight can tie back to the evenings of the brain. It is the darkest hour of the night and where everything seems to be touched by darkness. Only you are left to pull yourself out of the darkness, marking the true point of solitude in the poem and the true point of accomplishment if you accustom yourself to the night at that time. Life is personified in this situation to show how life almost has a mind of its own and things will occur that you have no control of. You do, however, have control over which direction your life takes. The direction all leads back to your sight or outlook of life. Iambic Tetrameter was used. Dickinson used this to continue with her idea of a universal situation of life. The iambic tetrameter mimics the heartbeat and that is something all of us connect to on an instinctual level. Yet the heartbeat is left hanging in the third stanza.. "...and SO of LARger---DARKness---". This draws attention to the poet's motivation for writing the poem. She realized that in order to truly overcome the darker side of life, you must embrace it and learn to surmount it ON YOUR OWN and from within, not from outside influences. After this realization is achieved, the tone and mood of the poem shifts as she now recognizes what she can do to overcome and set her life straight. Dickinson uses plural first person to make the poem a universal journey that any reader can connect to at some point of their life. The switch to the use of they in the fourth stanza shows that among us there are those that will conquer this darkness through shear bravery and stubbornness. These people are special and not everyone will try (or is able) to accustom themselves to their struggles. The use of dashes, creates a sense of stumbling through the dark. The poem is not read through smoothly and fluently, it is choppy and broken up. It reflects the nature of self discovery and how it will not be a journey that is effortless and there will be snags in the plan. It is only at the end of the poem where there is a flow to the poem, as the journey is continuing beyond the obstacles of darkness. The journeyer has found a flow to their life, by accepting the pitfalls as a part of the road. The solo punctuation at the end marks the end of this stage of journey for the traveler. The lack of punctuation in general marks how connected this journey is and how one step leads to another. Side note:This style changed American Poetry. End rhythm is not prominently used in this poem. End rhythm creates a sense of flow that is not a part of the journey of life. It also creates a sense of conformity that is not what Emily Dickinson is trying to get across. She recognizes that all of us are have struggles and that is a part of having a heartbeat. But each journey to overcoming the struggles is different and must (once more) be undertaken alone. And yet, she uses end rhythm in two situations to draw attention. In stanza four she uses the end rhythm to connect the moment where the darkness is acknowledge and where the learning and surmounting is undertaken. And then in stanza five where the knowledge is put to use and the moment has arrived to step beyond the obstacles. Just the Poem We grow accustomed to the Dark --
When light is put away --
As when the Neighbor holds the Lamp
To witness her Goodbye --

A Moment -- We uncertain step
For newness of the night --
Then -- fit our Vision to the Dark --
And meet the Road -- erect --

And so of larger -- Darkness --
Those Evenings of the Brain --
When not a Moon disclose a sign --
Or Star -- come out -- within --

The Bravest -- grope a little --
And sometimes hit a Tree
Directly in the Forehead --
But as they learn to see --

Either the Darkness alters --
Or something in the sight
Adjusts itself to Midnight --
And Life steps almost straight again.
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