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Poems On / About HOUSE  4/29/2016 10:25:45 PM
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Emily Dickinson

Part IV: Short Essay

Emily Dickinson had a very strong and sometimes depressing view of death. Many of her poems were written from a first person point of view describing people slowly going crazy. Often times, Dickinson would use funerals and/or death itself as metaphors to symbolize characters in her poems feeling as if parts of them (spiritually and physically) were slowly dying. For example, in the poem: “I felt a Funeral, in my Brain” Ms. Dickinson uses the concept of a funeral (lines 1-4) as a metaphor to describe her character slowly but surely losing her mind. After reading this, one could almost assume that Ms. Dickinson wrote the poem to help cope and come to grasps with the sad fact that sooner or later everybody dies. One thing that really stands out in this poem is when Ms. Dickinson speaks about “losing” her mind and becoming insane. The so called “funeral” taking place in her head is simply a figure of speech describing the gradual deterioration of her intellect.
Another belief that may have been held by Dickinson is that the holy customs and rites regarding funerals, is the closest that many individuals will ever come to understanding the extremely vague concept of death before they too “kick the bucket”. This belief can be found in Dickinson’s allegoric poem: “The Bustle in a House” (lines 1-4) . In this particular poem, Dickinson chooses her words carefully, making sure to use words with meanings that can be interpreted several different ways. For example, in the second line of “The Bustle in a house”, it is no happenstance that Dickinson uses the word “morning” which is a homograph for mourning, the traditional demonstration of anguish that Dickinson builds upon later in the poem. Lines 5-6 of “The Bustle in a House” use house cleaning as a figure of speech to describe the process of “moving on” after losing a loved one. Many people oftentimes use mundane tasks such as house keeping, to help distract them during times of hardship. When Dickinson writes “The sweeping up the heart, And putting love away” (lines 5-6) her meaning is somewhat unclear, although I think that when she says heart, she might be referring to the analogous word hearth. The hearth (fireplace) would need to be cleaned before relatives of the deceased arrived to pay their respects. In past times, most people were under the impression that after someone died, it was the responsibility of that person’s family to clean their home, so that others would come to visit. However, this was oftentimes easier said than done, since every house contains evidence of the existence of the departed. Another possible meaning one could derive from these two lines, is that the heart, shattered into fragments by grief, must be brushed off and placed in a secret place. Love similar to reminiscence, must be hidden in a secure location.
Having read another of Miss Dickinson’s poems (A Coffin-is a small Domain) , it occurred to me that there is a strong possibility that Dickinson was a firm believer in the existence of both Heaven and God. In lines 1-3 of “A Coffin-is a small Domain” Dickinson refers to a coffin as being small in stature, but yet still being large enough to contain what she calls “A Citizen of Paradise”. I myself interpreted this “Citizen of Paradise” to be symbolizing a deceased person currently residing in heaven. If you closely examine the seventh, eighth, and ninth lines of the poem, you see that Dickinson uses the word “he” twice and the word “him” once, I believe that when Dickinson says “he” she is referring to God. Another meaning that one can draw from the seventh and eighth lines of the poem, is that when she writes “And all the Seas He populates And Lands He looks upon” Dickinson is basically saying that everything on Earth including the earth its self were created by and therefore belong to no one but God.
Lines 11 and 12 of the poem have Dickinson mentioning a “Circumference without Relief—Or Estimate—or End—“. This “circumference” that Dickinson refers to, could have numerous meanings, although I took it to be a metaphor for the “circle of life” which is an endless and repeating process. The moral of the poem is that death is unavoidable and eventually everybody dies. While this may be a slightly depressing moral, all is not lost for Dickinson gives hope to her readers by hinting at the possibility of life after death, also known as heaven.
Adam Sobh

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Zy A Mousetrap (A Fable ~ Author Unknown)

A country mouse heard a rustling noise and looked through a crack in the wall to see what might be going on. He saw the farmer and his wife opening a box. To the mouse’s great dismay the box contained a mousetrap. Alarmed the mouse rushed out to the farmyard to spread a warning. “There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house! ”

The chicken, who had been clucking and scratching the earth, raised her head and said: “Mr. Mouse I can tell this is a grave concern to you, but it is of no consequence to me. So I shall not allow myself to be bothered by it.”

The mouse turned to the pig and told him: “There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house! The pig sympathized, but said; “I am so very sorry Mr. Mouse, but there is nothing I can do about it. Be assured however, that you will be in my prayers”.

Next the mouse went to the cow and repeated his alarm: “There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house! ”. The cow looked at him and said: “Gee Mr. Mouse that’s is to bad for you, but it’s no skin off my nose”.

Mr. Mouse returned to the farmhouse head down and dejected. Left to face the mousetrap alone. That very night the loud snap of a mousetrap snapping shut was heard throughout the farmhouse.

The farmers wife got up from bed and rushed out to see what had been caught in the trap. In the darkness she did not see that it was a venomous snake which had gotten its tail caught in the trap. As she stepped near the trap the snake struck out and bit her on her foot. The farmer rushed her to the hospital where the doctors gave the only treatment available but could not guarantee a full recovery. The farmer’s wife asked to be allowed to return to the farmhouse to recuperate.

Once home the farmer’s wife continued to feel ill. She developed a fever so the farmer, hoping to make her feel well, went out to the farmyard and killed the chicken to make his wife some soup. But her sickness continued and many friends and neighbors stopped by to wish her well and offer assistance. Grateful for their concern the farmer went out to the farmyard and slaughtered the pig so that he could feed the well-wishers.

Alas the farmer’s wife continued to decline in health and after some days she passed away. Knowing that many friends and relatives would arrive for the funeral the farmer had the cow butchered so that he would have meat to feed these mourners.

The mouse could only watch from his little crack in the wall. Saddened at the loss of his farmyard friends, but knowing that he had done all he could to warn them of the danger posed by the mousetrap.

The next time you hear someone is facing a problem and shares their concern with you, Remember the story of the Mr. Mouse and the mousetrap. We are all connected in life in what may seem mysterious ways, so when one of us is threatened we are all at risk.

Author Unknown
Mary Havran

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Our House

Our house is a house we built together
We have laid every brick one by one
We have nailed every board one blow at a time
Our house is a house we built together

Every board is not perfect some are not straight
Some walls are built in the wrong place
We must carefully remove those boards
We must carefully remove those walls

We must rebuild them in the correct place
We must replace each board one by one
Until the holes are all closed
Until all the walls are in the right place

When we finish we can stand back and say
This is our house, a house we built together
Jamey Einrem

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Sonnet: An Empty House Remembers

The empty house around me ticks and creaks,
A moody end to evening's gentle rains,
A brooding quiet as the daylight wanes,
The secret language empty houses speak.

What stories might this house preserve entire
In rhythmic code composed of click and groan?
Does House recall a sadness with each moan?
Is laughter stored in every plank and wire?

And how might I, a fleeting visitor,
Acquire an ear for stories trapped in time,
And wrap a tale or two in words and rhyme?
How can I tap the House's secret lore?

In silence soft the house slips off to sleep.
Alone I sit, in darkness vast and deep.
Russell Collier

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Poems On / About HOUSE