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Analysis

Body, Mind, and Soul

Symbol Analysis

Dickinson mixes references to physical, intellectual, and spiritual reality as if all three were really the same reality, after all. She seems to make no distinction between the "Brain" and the "Mind," for example. If you really wanted to dig into this poem, you could write a whole paper on the different ways in which the speaker refers to parts of herself.

  • Line 1: The central metaphor of the poem is that there is a funeral going on inside the speaker's brain. Unlike "mind," which refers to the powers of intelligence, "brain" usually refers to the physical mass inside our skulls: the grey matter.
  • Line 4: "Sense" – the ability to perceive objects with our senses – is compared metaphorically to something "breaking" through the floor of the room where the funeral is being held.
  • Line 8: Dickinson is super-sneaky here. The "Mind" can't go "numb," because minds are not physical objects. Rather, the mind is the location of our intelligence. "Numb" is a metaphor.
  • Line 9: In this continuation of the funeral metaphor, the "Soul" is compared to the wooden floor that the mourners walk over with the casket.
  • Line 14: "Being" is the most general word that the speaker uses to describe herself. It means, simply, "Existence."
  • Line 17: Whereas, in line 9, the "Soul" was compared to a wood floor, now the metaphor shifts slightly and "Reason" is the floor that breaks. Does Dickinson think "Reason" and "Soul" are the same thing?

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