We published Poem 340 before and decided to re-write the analysis of this poem. All because December is Emily Dickinson Month.
Let’s bring forward the conclusion, that the person who tells this story is losing its mind. This funeral is actually a person’s descent into madness. The person is overwhelmed with the sense that any rationality isn’t an option.
A funeral is considered as something final. Yes, there are many religions that see death as a something new; a new life or an afterlife. This doesn’t mean, that death is in any way greeted with enthusiasm for those who are left behind. In her poem, there are those who seemingly mourn about the diseased. At least when you read the poem just as. Dickinson used those mourners a metaphor. This is the pain of the person telling this story of madness. This treading, it’s nothing more than a repetition of a force pulling her down. Down or downwards with force, this is probably very familiar for those struggling with mental issues. This, in fact, can be the moment, when reason is lost. According to this poem, it will never end.
If you don’t want to go as far as we do, there is always the option to go with what you read: someone who has been declared dead but isn’t. Or there is the option, about that fear that many had at the time when Dickinson wrote this poem: to be buried alive.
Dickinson and death
This Belle of Amherst wrote many poems about death and the afterlife. This poem is no exception, even when you read this poem as if it was written by someone turning insane. Remember that insanity leads to the death of a sense of reality that is considered as normal. This is very subjectively.
Poem 340: “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,
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—