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Updated: Nov 1, 2020


I Felt a Funeral in my Brain” is a poem written in 1861 and published in 1896 by Emily Dickinson. Funeral is a ceremony held shortly after a person’s death for burying the body. Metaphorically, Funeral happening in this poem means a part of sanity, dying by overhanging with mental exhaustion of the poet. Her mind under stress strive through mental crisis and expresses it figuratively through funeral procession. Also she explores her abstract pain in concrete languages descriptively.


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, again,

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 -


The poet felt a funeral service happening in her mind, where people at a funeral move repeatedly from one place to another back and forth. They kept on walking (distressing) till her senses become fragmented to attain a devastated hole. And, after all mourners were seated, a drum-like funeral service vibrated with repeated blow until her mind lost sensation (sanity). After this state of mental instability, she heard them (pall-bearers) lifting a coffin box (sane self). These men trampling over her spirit (soul) and carry it with a squeaking sound by their leaden boots (which were worn by everyone in the funeral procession) which put a strain on her mind. Then the bell rang deafening as if it is coming from the whole space which embodies her (sanity self) death. Space in the earth began to toll and all heavens were acting like a bell, her mind got engrossed with these sounds (her ear listening to the toll of the bell) and silence felt like a strange thing for her which was alienated from the world. She was all alone with devastated isolation. The casket broke and she (flat piece of wood that carries her sanity) descended down and down and set foot in a world of darkness forcibly. In deeper, she has ended up by knowing something, then...


Emily Dickinson by Hinds, Maurene J

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