Study Guide

I felt a Funeral, in my Brain Suffering

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The suffering in "I felt a Funeral, in my Brain" is passive. The speaker doesn't seek out a traumatic experience or bring one upon itself. She seems to remain in the same location throughout the poem, until the floor breaks beneath her. It's not clear that she does anything at all. Rather, things are done to her. Specifically, noise. People walk on her, and then she hears a loud drumbeat until she goes numb. Even after going numb, she seems capable of hearing and feeling things. Some readers think that "I felt a Funeral, in my Brain" is about depression.

Questions About Suffering

  1. Could this poem be explained merely as a really bad headache? Don't laugh – we're serious!
  2. Why does the speaker repeat words like "treading" and "beating"? Do they necessarily imply suffering?
  3. Why do you think she is so powerless and passive in the face of her suffering?
  4. Does the speaker have the ability to move? Does she even have a body?

Chew on This

The "treading" and "beating" that the speaker experiences is the pulsing of her own heart.

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