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Of God we ask one favor Analysis



Author: poem of Emily Dickinson Type: poem Views: 24

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1601



Of God we ask one favor,

That we may be forgiven—

For what, he is presumed to know—

The Crime, from us, is hidden—

Immured the whole of Life

Within a magic Prison

We reprimand the Happiness

That too competes with Heaven.



Edited by Peter Carter






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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

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In this poem, Emily is being very ironic.
“Of God we ask one favor,
That we may be forgiven—“
The poem starts as an ordinary plea for forgiveness, as a prayer of meek, God-fearing people. However, there is a word in this, at first sight, ordinary prayer and that’s “favor”. It introduces a very business-like tone, which implies that these people may not be on good terms with God. We are not asking you as our loving father but as a distant, unfamiliar, possibly unloved, figure on whom we depend. Our relationship with God is cold and distant.
“For what, he is presumed to know—
The Crime, from us, is hidden—“
This is a very bold statement. For what should we be forgiven? What is our crime? Our sins are “hidden” from us, but God presumably knows them. This may indicate that we are not aware of our sins because we don’t believe that we have actually sinned. The first line has a sarcastic tone to it stemming from the word “presumed”. It’s almost as if people make fun of a cruel, nitpicking God who perceives our harmless pleasures as wrongdoings.
“Immured the whole of Life
Within a magic Prison”
Religious fear kept us walled in and only now, that we have burst through the walls, are we able to see that there’s a whole world beyond those walls and that, all this time, we were allowed to see only our dark prison cell. “Magic” prison may refer to the fact that the prison was imaginary with no real walls, but the illusion of them which was forced upon us. This word “magic” also sounds ironic in the sense that it may compare religion to the cheap magic tricks of a magician, something which only at first sight seems real, but is actually a fraud. At this point, we may even assume that the poet is not referring to the actual God, but instead to the institution which represents him and which imposes obscene rules on us in the name of someone/something they don’t really know.
“We reprimand the Happiness
That too competes with Heaven.”
Being in our “magic Prison”, i.e. our minds being ruled over by frauds, we refrain from anything that makes us happy and even “reprimand” anyone who seeks happiness. We can sense that in these lines, the poet suggests that this totally defies common sense. These last two lines are truly provocative since the poet compares our “impure” happiness (considered sins) with Heaven. It’s almost as if she’s saying: “If following my common sense, instead of obeying your ludicrous rules, will cost me Heaven, then so be it.”

| Posted on 2016-01-14 | by a guest




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