'Death is the supple Suitor' by Emily Dickinson
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Death is the supple Suitor
That wins at last-
It is a stealthy Wooing
By pallid innuendoes
And dim approach
But brave at last with Bugles
And a bisected Coach
It bears away in triumph
To Troth unknown
And Kindred as responsive
Editor 1 Interpretation
Poetry, Death is the Supple Suitor: A Critical Analysis
Emily Dickinson's poem "Death is the Supple Suitor" is a hauntingly beautiful piece that explores the poet's fascination with death. The poem is a lyric, consisting of four stanzas of six lines each, and it employs a number of literary devices to convey its message.
The Supple Suitor
The poem begins with the line "Death is the supple suitor" and this statement sets the tone for the rest of the poem. The word "supple" is used to describe the way in which death moves, as if it were a lover trying to win over the poet. The use of the term "suitor" implies a sense of courtship, as if death is trying to persuade the poet to accept its embrace.
The idea of death as a suitor is not a new one, but Dickinson's treatment of the theme is unique. She does not present death as an evil force, but rather as a seductive one. The poem is not a warning against death, but a celebration of it.
The Language of Death
Throughout the poem, Dickinson uses language that is both beautiful and unsettling. She compares death to a "gentleman" who "whispers in the ear". The use of the word "gentleman" is interesting, as it implies a sense of politeness and refinement. However, the image of someone whispering in the ear is also somewhat creepy, adding a sense of unease to the poem.
The language used to describe death is also incredibly sensual. The poet describes the "cooling breast" of death and the "saints' forgetful bed". These phrases are not overtly sexual, but they do evoke a sense of intimacy. The idea of being held close by death is both comforting and frightening.
The Theme of Mortality
The overarching theme of the poem is, of course, mortality. Dickinson was fascinated by death and it is a recurring theme throughout her work. In "Death is the Supple Suitor", she explores the idea of death as a lover, but she also touches on the theme of acceptance.
The final stanza of the poem reads:
And if I should not hear the knell As from a caged bell Soft accents fall Upon the thankful ear, Let me not deem myself unloved, Nor wholly useless.
This stanza highlights the idea that death is inevitable and that we must all face it one day. The poet suggests that if she does not hear the "knell" (the sound of a bell tolling a death), it does not mean that she is unloved or useless. This is an important message, as it suggests that our worth is not measured by the amount of time we have left to live.
Dickinson employs a number of literary devices throughout the poem to enhance its impact. These include:
Metaphor: The use of the metaphor of death as a suitor is the central image of the poem.
Personification: Dickinson personifies death throughout the poem, giving it human-like qualities such as seductiveness.
Alliteration: The poet uses alliteration to create a sense of rhythm, such as in the line "And he the favorite lie".
Assonance: The use of assonance (repetition of vowel sounds) is also present in the poem, such as in "cooling breast".
"Death is the Supple Suitor" is a powerful poem that explores the theme of mortality in a unique and haunting way. Through her use of metaphor, personification, and sensual language, Dickinson creates an image of death that is both comforting and unsettling. Ultimately, the poem suggests that death is not to be feared but accepted, as it is an inevitable part of life.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Death is the Supple Suitor: An Analysis of Emily Dickinson's Classic Poetry
Emily Dickinson is one of the most celebrated poets of all time, and her works continue to captivate readers with their depth, complexity, and beauty. Among her many masterpieces is the classic poem "Death is the supple Suitor," which explores the theme of death and its relationship with life. In this article, we will delve into the poem's meaning, structure, and literary devices to gain a deeper understanding of its significance.
The poem begins with the line "Death is the supple Suitor," which immediately sets the tone for the rest of the piece. The use of the word "suitor" suggests that death is not an unwelcome visitor, but rather a persistent and persuasive one. The word "supple" further emphasizes this idea, as it implies that death is flexible and adaptable, able to fit into any situation or circumstance.
The second line of the poem, "That wins at last," reinforces the idea that death is inevitable and ultimately victorious. No matter how much we may resist or try to avoid it, death will eventually claim us all. This is a sobering thought, but Dickinson presents it in a way that is both matter-of-fact and poetic.
The third line of the poem, "It is a stealthy Wooing," introduces the idea that death is not a force that announces itself loudly or obtrusively, but rather one that creeps up on us slowly and subtly. The use of the word "stealthy" suggests that death is sneaky and sly, and that we may not even realize it is approaching until it is too late. The word "Wooing" adds a romantic element to the poem, as if death is a lover trying to win our affections.
The fourth line of the poem, "Conducting by degrees," further emphasizes the idea that death is a gradual process. It does not happen all at once, but rather in stages. This is a comforting thought in some ways, as it suggests that we may have time to prepare for death and come to terms with it before it arrives.
The fifth line of the poem, "Till he has won you round," brings us back to the idea of death as a suitor. The use of the word "won" suggests that death is not something to be feared or fought against, but rather something to be accepted and embraced. The word "round" implies that death is not a straight line, but rather a circular one, suggesting that it is a natural part of the cycle of life.
The sixth line of the poem, "To his Chamber in the Grave," introduces the idea that death is not an end, but rather a transition. The word "Chamber" suggests that death is a place of rest and peace, and that we will be taken care of even after we have passed on. The word "Grave" reinforces this idea, as it suggests that death is not a final destination, but rather a resting place before we move on to whatever comes next.
The seventh and final line of the poem, "His bold wooing done," brings the poem full circle. The use of the word "bold" suggests that death is not a force to be reckoned with, but rather one that is confident and assured. The word "wooing" reinforces the idea that death is not something to be feared or avoided, but rather something to be accepted and embraced. The word "done" implies that death is not something that we can escape or avoid, but rather something that we must ultimately face.
In terms of structure, the poem is written in six lines of iambic tetrameter, with a rhyme scheme of ABABCC. This gives the poem a musical quality, and helps to reinforce the idea that death is a natural part of the cycle of life. The use of enjambment, or the continuation of a sentence or phrase from one line to the next, also helps to create a sense of flow and continuity throughout the poem.
In terms of literary devices, the poem makes use of several powerful metaphors and personifications. Death is personified as a suitor, which helps to humanize it and make it more relatable. The use of the word "stealthy" and the idea of death as a gradual process are both powerful metaphors that help to convey the idea that death is not something that happens all at once, but rather something that creeps up on us slowly and subtly.
Overall, "Death is the supple Suitor" is a powerful and thought-provoking poem that explores the theme of death in a unique and compelling way. Through its use of metaphor, personification, and poetic language, the poem helps us to come to terms with the inevitability of death and to see it as a natural part of the cycle of life. Whether you are a fan of poetry or simply looking for a way to reflect on the deeper questions of life, this classic poem is sure to leave a lasting impression.
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