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I felt a Funeral, in my Brain -- Emily Dickinson

Guest poem submitted by Nick Grundy, in response
to yesterday's offering:
(Poem #871) I felt a Funeral, in my Brain
 I felt a Funeral, in my Brain,
 And Mourners to and fro
 Kept treading--treading--till it seemed
 That Sense was breaking through--

 And when they all were seated,
 A Service, like a Drum--
 Kept beating--beating--till I thought
 My Mind was going numb--

 And then I heard them lift a Box
 And creak across my Soul
 With those same Boots of Lead, again,
 Then Space--began to toll,

 As all the Heavens were a Bell,
 And Being, but an Ear,
 And I, and Silence, some strange Race
 Wrecked, solitary, here--

 And then a Plank in Reason, broke,
 And I dropped down, and down--
 And hit a World, at every plunge,
 And Finished knowing--then--
-- Emily Dickinson
How strange - I first read the Hopkins poem (#870) last week in a book by
Andrew Solomon about depression called "The Noonday Demon" (it's wonderful,
but this is not a book advert).  If you feel like running a depression theme
- I don't know if you have already - another one Solomon used which is also
a bit of a favourite of mine is the Emily Dickinson above.  Reading the one
after the other, there's a rather lovely counterpoise between them: the
rhythm of the Dickinson is measured where the Hopkins is frantic, but
strangely (given that she uses "I" and he "we") I find the Hopkins more
personal or individual.

I hadn't thought of the poem, before reading Solomon, as being about
depression, and of course I suppose one shouldn't really say it's *about*
anything, but to my mind reading it as such makes the sense break through
more forcefully than before.  Not to, um, coin a phrase.


[Minstrels Links]

The Hopkins poem referred to above:
Poem #870, No worst, there is none

Other poems by Gerard Manley Hopkins:
Poem #59, To a Young Child
Poem #3, Inversnaid
Poem #35, The Windhover
Poem #134, Pied Beauty
Poem #260, Moonrise
Poem #606, God's Grandeur

Other poems by Emily Dickinson:
Poem #92, There's a certain Slant of light
Poem #174, A Route of Evanescence
Poem #341, The Grass so little has to do -
Poem #458, The Chariot
Poem #529, If you were coming in the fall
Poem #580, Split the Lark
Poem #687, Success is counted sweetest
Poem #711, I'm Nobody! Who are you?
Poem #829, It dropped so low in my regard

34 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Orianna smith-17 said...

hello my name is orianna smith and im doing a research project on EMILY DICKINSON and i'd like to know what kind of poems (ballads, free verse, ode) the following are: "i felt a funeral in my brain", "The grass", "The snake", and "The Railroad Train". if you could answer back as soon as possible, i'd be nice. thx bye. plz e-mail me at

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