Emily Dickinson Poems (2/2)

I chose “Honest” by Kodaline because the entire song is basically about honesty. It’s exaggerated, but it still reminded me of the Dickinson poem, “Tell all the Truth but tell it slant–”

That particular poem is short and seemingly simple, yet it holds a lot of meaning for interpretation, and though I read it multiple times, I’m still not entirely sure what she means by the line “Success in Circuit lies.” Aside from that line though, I think what Dickinson is trying to say is that we should always tell the truth but that we shouldn’t say it outright. She writes,

“As Lightning to the Children eased / With explanation kind / The Truth must dazzle gradually / Or every man be blind–“

I really like the lightning imagery that she uses to describe how sudden and bold truth can be blinding. She believes that unless we tell truths gradually, we will be dazzled by it just as young children are with lightning before it can be explained to them. This idea ties back to the first line nicely.

This poem is also important because of the slant rhyme which can be seen in this poem as well as many of her other poems as well.

In another poem, Dickinson criticizes public figures or celebrities while claiming to be “Nobody!” Except Dickinson actually prefers to be a nobody than a somebody because it lets her keep her sense of self. She doesn’t have to try to impress anyone or go around in the public light repeating the same thing over and over. Dickinson writes,

“How dreary–to be–somebody! / How public–like a Frog– / To tell your name–the livelong June– / To an admiring Bog!”

In both poems, she still uses features of nature to make her points, such as the frog and lightning. At first I didn’t understand why she would use a frog, but then I understood that the public figures are like frogs in that they are constantly repeating themselves, specifically their names. They want everyone to know who they are, and everyone is asking who they are as well. Dickinson would prefer to be left alone with her anonymity, and her excitement at the possibility of finding another individual like herself is satirical in ¬†light of what she’s criticizing.

Again, she capitalizes certain letters in both poems, and I’m not sure why. Perhaps it’s a stylistic element like the persistent dashes.

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