In the poem We Grow Accustomed to the Dark, by Emily Dickinson, a loss is described in detail using a metaphor of darkness and light. Dickinson uses metaphors, strong imagery, and the way the poem is written in order to describe the loss of a loved one in her life. The poem is written in a first person, and Dickinson uses the words “we” in the first line and the title in order to show that the poem is meant to be interpreted not only by herself, but also by others whom have lost something important in their life, and whom now must try and live in the darkness.
Dickinson uses many dashes in her poem, sometimes more than one on each line. The dashes are meant to represent pauses and increased difficulties in her life. By using the dashes, Dickinson shows how now that there is darkness everything in her life must be considered, and each step is riddled with pauses and contemplations about her life. The dashes force the reader to pause in their mind, and absorb what has happened so far, and let the meaning of the previous line or so sink in. The dashes are used to effectively and deliberately make the reader reflect on the darkness.
We Grow Accustomed to the Dark uses many strong images in order to paint a picture of the darkness now encompassing her life. In the first stanza, she writes, “As when the Neighbor holds the Lamp/ To witness her Goodbye-“. These two lines use imagery of a silhouette of a person, lit by a fading light in their back. The person is leaving, and the person represents the light. The Lamp is illuminating the departure, and with the disappearance of the woman, the light also disappears. This image is made to grab hold of the reader right from the start, and effectively draws them into the rest of the poem.
In the second stanza, Dickinson writes, “And meet the Road–erect–“. This invokes in the readers’ mind and image of a stout yet stalwart victim, alone at the end of a long, dark, perilous road. This imagery is successfully used to show a picture of the author, or even the reader, as they are standing and trying for their new life, in the darkness, in the absence of light.
The poem is written in five distinct stanzas, each comprising of four lines. There is nothing special, unique, or fancy about the way the poem is organized on the page, and this is done in order to symbolize the very regularity of the fact that sometimes, things or people you love are lost. With the loss of something important, the world does not stop and arrange your life for you. It will continue on in the same unerringly normal way it always has, but now there will just be not light in your life.
In the third stanza, Dickinson writes about “The Bravest” and how they attempt to cope with the loss of light and the newfound darkness in their lives. She brutally and honestly shows how the bravest are stopped by a meager tree in their groping towards a better life. Dickinson uses the word “grope”, which has a slight negative connotation to describe the actions of the bravest in this new world of dark. By using the word grope, which sounds similar too and has a similar structure to “grotesque”, Dickinson throws the victims of the loss of light into a negative mood and relates them with very shady people, almost like crooks. Still, even as they attempt to make it in the new world, a tree comes and smacks them in the forehead. Yet another obstacle, which is barring their path, and this tree, adds much insult to injury.
The poem concludes by relating the darkness to ones perception of their surroundings, and presents the idea that in order to make it in the new world without light, one must change their perception of what really constitutes lightness in their life. If they are unable to change their opinions on their perception of light, then to get on in their life something in the darkness itself must alter, such as a new object situation restoring some of the light. Finally, the poem ends with “And light steps almost straight”. This line uses the word “almost” to completely effect the overall conclusion of the poem. Dickinson illustrates that by coming to terms with the darkness, one can get their life back on track, but it will never be as straight as it was before. Life will always be “almost” regular.
Courtney from Study Moose
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