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I felt a Funeral in my Brain by Emily Dickinson
Transcript of I felt a Funeral in my Brain by Emily Dickinson
Presentation by: Samantha Gray
Who was Emily Dickinson?
Emily Elizabeth Dickinson was born on December 10, 1830, in Amherst, Massachusetts. Her grandfather, Samuel Dickinson, was the founder of Amherst College. Her father married Emily Norcross in 1828 and the couple had three children: William Austin, Lavinia Norcross and Emily. Emily Dickinson went to Amherst Academy (now Amherst College) and the Mount Holyoke Female Seminary. She was a great student, but she missed a lot of the school year due to falling ill repeatedly and also depression. Dickinson's reasons for leaving the academy in 1848 are unknown, though it is believed that her fragile emotional state probably was a factor.
Writing and Influences
Dickinson began writing as a teenager. Her early influences included her principal at Amherst Academy, and a family friend named Benjamin Franklin Newton. Newton introduced Dickinson to the poetry of William Wordsworth, who also served as an inspiration.
Emily served as a caregiver for her sick mother from the mid-1850s until her mother’s death in 1882. Dickinson was very secluded during this period. Scholars believe that she suffered from conditions such as agoraphobia, depression and/or anxiety. She also was treated for a painful ailment of her eyes.
Writing and Influences cont.
After the mid 1860s, she rarely left her home. It was also during this time that Dickinson was most productive as a poet, filling notebooks with verse without any awareness on the part of her family members. She also maintained correspondence with a variety of contacts. One of her friends were Judge Otis Phillips Lord. The two seemed to have developed a romance before the Lord's death in 1884.
Final Life and Later Discoveries
Dickinson died of kidney disease in Amherst, Massachusetts, on May 15, 1886 at the age of 56. Little of Dickinson's work was published at the time of her death. The few works that were published were edited and altered. Unfortunately, much power of Dickinson's unusual use of syntax and form was lost in the alteration. After Emily's death, her sister discovered hundreds of her poems in notebooks that Emily had filled. These poems were published in 1890. A full compilation, The Poems of Emily Dickinson, wasn't published until 1955. Dickinson's career as a writer soared from the first publication of her poems in their intended form. She is known for her poignant and compressed verse, which influenced the direction of 20th century poetry. The strength of her literary voice, as well as her reclusive and eccentric life, contributes to the sense of Dickinson as an unforgettable American character.
Emily Dickinson 1830-1886
Like most writers, Emily Dickinson wrote about what she knew and about what intrigued her. A keen observer, she used images from nature, religion, law, music, commerce, medicine, fashion, and domestic activities to probe universal themes: the wonders of nature, the identity of the self, death and immortality, and love.
What do I get from the title?
*I felt a funeral in my brain*
I think that the author of this poem, Emily Dickinson, is trying to express how a part of herself, more so her sanity, has died in her brain. And that her brain is possibly holding a funeral for the loss of it.
I felt a part of myself dying. My mind was going crazy and it would not calm. Never calming until it was too late and I realized what was happening.
And my mind began to calm. I only felt the beating of my heart. Over and over until I was completely numb.
And then I felt it closing. The opening of my soul as the same heavy feelings entered. My mind lost it's calmness, and everything went wrong.
Heavens are being filled with the sound of bells. And by existing, you don't control what you hear. Silence and I are the same. Destroyed, alone, and left here.
The rationality that has supported me has broken and I dropped down into a dark place. And I smashed through all other feelings on my way down. And I ended, knowing-- then--
Simile: "A service, like a drum," is one. In this line, the funeral service (failure of her brain) is like a beating drum. She explains that this feeling makes her feel like her brain is going numb as the sound goes on and on.
Metaphors: "As all the Heavens were a Bell" is a metaphor in this poem. She was trying to show how she was an ear and the rest of the world was full of bells. They were ringing out for her to listen and she couldn't take it anymore. "Funeral" could be a metaphor for how she is losing herself. Dickinson uses the metaphor of standing on a plank or board and falling, to describe the speaker's descent into irrationality or insanity.
Symbol: "Funeral" is a symbol of her losing her mind. The "mourners" represent her mind going crazy and not being able to be calm. The "mourners" sitting represent the calming of her mind.
The syntax of the poem mimics a child-like voice. There are ten lies out of about twenty that begin with the word "And."
Personification: "That sense was breaking through-" is an example because "sense" or reason can't break through. "Silence" is personified as someone belonged to the same "strange Race" as the speaker. She used personification to show how both Silence and the speaker sound lonely.
-"felt" and "funeral" (line 1)
- "treading", "treading", and "till" (line 3)
-"When" and "were" (line 5)
-"beating" and "beating" (line 7)
-"my" and "mind" (line 8)
- "Being" and "but" (line 10)
-"Silence", "strange", and "some" (line 15)
"Emily Dickinson." Bio. A&E Television Networks, 2015. Web.
07 May 2015.
I Felt a Funeral in My Brain by Emily Dickinson. April 20, 2013.
YouTube. Web. May 7, 2015.
Shmoop Editorial Team. "Emily Dickinson: Childhood."
Shmoop.com. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 8 May 2015.
Shmoop Editorial Team. "I felt a Funeral, in my Brain Poem
Text." Shmoop.com. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 8 May 2015.
Pictures: Google Images
Rhyme and Rhythm
The rhyme of the poem is ABCB. The second and fourth line in each stanza rhymes except for the last stanza. Dickinson is famous for using slant rhymes, or words that sound similar but don't quite rhyme. "Fro" and "through" in the first stanza is an example. And then there's the final stanza, which doesn't rhyme at all, as if Dickinson were illustrating how her world falls apart.
The rhythm of the poem is iambic, with a stressed beat followed by an unstressed beat: "I felt a Fun-eral, in my Brain." The meter follows the usual patterns of church hymns.
When one is in a sad or depressing state it is difficult and challenging for an individual to keep his or her hold on what defines reality. The author obviously was showing this theme more dominantly because the poem showed how she struggled to keep her sanity and how in the end she lost it.
The poem was about how she was struggling to keep her sanity, but in the end she ended up losing it. The title is an interpretation of her losing sanity.
Dickinson makes the poem seem very depressing and gloomy. She is showing how a mental breakdown of her brain is like its own funeral. It's depressing and scary to her.
Imagery: She shows great imagery in this poem. She uses the words "treading", "breaking", "seated", and "drum". All these words were telling what was going on around her in her mind, amplifying her distress.
Shift: It starts out kind of overwhelming for the writer, then at the very end it shifts to almost defeat. Like she is giving into her insanity and letting it take over her completely.