Study Guide

Apparently with no surprise Religion

By Emily Dickinson

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In "Apparently with no surprise," we find Emily going at one of her favorite punching bags: God. That's right, the Big Guy, himself. After painting a sinister portrait of death, she caps the poem off by saying that God is looking down with approval on all of it. It seems like this poem is asking, "Okay, Big Guy, if you're so merciful, why are you cool with all this?"

That said, the poem also feels a bit removed. While it describes the mass murder of happy flowers in no uncertain terms, it also doesn't get all weepy about it. Is it possible that the poem is actually an acceptance of God's will? Is the speaker looking out on the unrelenting cycle of life and death and saying, "Well, if that's the way it has to go…"?

Questions About Religion

  1. If the speaker was granted a five minute meeting with God, what do you think she would say? 
  2. In what ways might the Sun be seen as a symbol of God in the poem?
  3. How hands-on is the "God" depicted in the poem? Is he the one directly causing all the death for his own amusement, or is he just sitting back and letting nature do its thing?

Chew on This

The poem tries to slap the sense into anybody who believes in a merciful God.

The poem doesn't accuse God at all; instead, it tells us that we might as well stop accusing anybody and just accept our fate.

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