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Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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Themes

"I felt a Funeral, in my Brain" comes about as close to a dream as possible without the poet announcing, "This is a dream I had." The setting shifts with no warning, and the story of the funeral hangs together very loosely. The whole scene takes place inside the speaker's brain, mind, or soul – we're not sure which, or whether these are all the same thing. Her mind is a huge, cavernous place that contains entire worlds. The end of the poem reads like someone waking up from a dream. On top of all that, we're not sure whether the speaker is living or dead. She might be narrating the poem from inside a coffin.

Questions About Versions of Reality

  1. How does the use of capital letters change our view of the reality of the things and spaces she describes?
  2. How does Dickinson create different kinds of physical spaces in this poem?
  3. How do you picture the setting of the poem? Does your imagination add any details that aren't actually in the poem?
  4. How is the poem like a dream? How is it not?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

In the world of Dickinson's poem, the mind is a microcosm of the universe as a whole.

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