I felt a Funeral, in my Brain
by Emily Dickinson
I felt a Funeral, in my Brain Theme of Versions of Reality
"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
- How does the use of capital letters change our view of the reality of the things and spaces she describes?
- How does Dickinson create different kinds of physical spaces in this poem?
- How do you picture the setting of the poem? Does your imagination add any details that aren't actually in the poem?
- How is the poem like a dream? How is it not?
Chew on This
In the world of Dickinson's poem, the mind is a microcosm of the universe as a whole.