Study Guide

I felt a Funeral, in my Brain Mortality

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"I felt a Funeral, in my Brain," like many of the Dickinson's poems, deals with the subject of death. In particular, she likes to deal with the subject of the moment of death and burial. For example, check out her poems "I died for Beauty – but was scarce" or Shmoop's analysis of "I heard a Fly buzz – when I died –". It seems that Dickinson was either afraid of death, or really curious about it, or maybe a mix of both. She seemed to believe that people went through death-like experiences throughout their lives. One of the central questions in this poem is whether death is a metaphor for some other experience.

Questions About Mortality

  1. How is it possible to "feel" a funeral? Usually even people who attend real funerals don't "feel" them.
  2. Is the speaker narrating her own funeral? Have you ever imagined your own funeral in her head – you know, to see who would show up?
  3. Does the speaker die at the end of the poem? What do you think the phrase "finished knowing" means?
  4. The experience of having a funeral in one's brain is clearly a bad thing. But is the speaker actually afraid of death?

Chew on This

The poem is written from the perspective of a dead person in a casket, and every detail of the poem can be explained along these lines.

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