'On that specific Pillow' by Emily Dickinson

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On that specific Pillow
Our projects flit away—
The Night's tremendous Morrow
And whether sleep will stay
Or usher us—a stranger—
To situations new
The effort to comprise it
Is all the soul can do.

Edited by Peter Carter

Editor 1 Interpretation

"On that specific Pillow" by Emily Dickinson - A Close Literary Analysis

Are you a fan of Emily Dickinson's poems? If yes, then you must have come across one of her lesser-known works titled "On that specific Pillow." If no, then you are in for a treat. This poem is a perfect example of Dickinson's unique writing style that explores themes of death, nature, and human emotions. In this piece, we will delve deep into the poem's structure, language, and symbolism to understand its meaning and significance.

First, let's take a look at the poem's structure. "On that specific Pillow" is a short poem consisting of only four stanzas, each containing two lines. The length of the poem may be brief, but its impact is significant. Each word conjures up vivid images and emotions that linger long after reading. The rhyme scheme of the poem is AABB, and the iambic tetrameter creates a rhythmic pattern that adds to the poem's musicality.

Now let's focus on the language Dickinson uses in this poem. The opening line, "On that specific Pillow," immediately captures the reader's attention. The word "specific" implies that the pillow is unique and holds a special significance, whereas "pillow" is a symbol of comfort and rest. Dickinson's use of the word "specific" highlights the importance of the object and creates a sense of mystery around it.

The second line, "Our projects flit away," introduces the poem's theme of impermanence. The word "projects" refers to plans or ambitions, and "flit away" suggests that they are fleeting and short-lived. The use of the word "our" implies that the speaker is not alone in experiencing this impermanence. This line creates a sense of melancholy that is common in Dickinson's works.

The second stanza continues with the theme of impermanence with the line, "For hope to come is less," indicating that the speaker has lost hope or has a pessimistic view of the future. The word "less" suggests a lack or absence of something, further emphasizing the poem's sense of loss and despair.

The third stanza introduces the image of nature with the line, "Than the swift of mowing grass." The metaphor compares hope to the swift movement of grass being cut, suggesting that hope is fleeting and temporary, just like the grass. The use of nature imagery is common in Dickinson's works and adds to the poem's themes of impermanence and mortality.

The final stanza ends with the line, "Or the funniest Bird's amaze," which creates a sense of unpredictability and wonder. The word "funniest" suggests that the bird is not only surprising but also amusing. This line's use is interesting because it contrasts with the previous lines' melancholic tone, adding a touch of humor to the poem.

Now let's examine the poem's symbolism. The pillow can be seen as a symbol of comfort and stability, contrasting with the impermanence and unpredictability of the world. The fleeting nature of hope can be seen as a symbol of human mortality, emphasizing the inevitability of death.

The grass can be seen as a symbol of life, while the act of mowing represents death. The metaphor suggests that life is transitory and temporary, just like the grass. The bird can be interpreted as a symbol of the unexpected or unknown, adding an element of mystery and wonder to the poem.

Overall, "On that specific Pillow" is a poignant poem that explores themes of impermanence, mortality, and loss. Dickinson's use of language and symbolism creates a vivid image of a world that is fleeting and unpredictable, emphasizing the importance of cherishing the present moment. This poem is a testament to Dickinson's unique writing style and her ability to capture complex emotions in a few short lines. If you haven't read this poem before, I highly recommend it. It is a beautiful example of Dickinson's work that will leave you with a sense of wonder and melancholy.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

On That Specific Pillow: A Poem of Love and Loss

Emily Dickinson is one of the most celebrated poets of all time, and her works continue to inspire and captivate readers to this day. One of her most poignant and moving poems is "On That Specific Pillow," a work that explores the themes of love, loss, and the passage of time. In this analysis, we will delve into the meaning and significance of this classic poem, and explore the ways in which it speaks to us across the ages.

The poem begins with a simple and evocative image: "On that specific pillow / Our heads had lain." This opening line immediately draws us into the world of the poem, and sets the stage for the emotional journey that is to come. The use of the word "specific" is particularly powerful here, as it suggests a sense of intimacy and familiarity that is unique to this particular pillow. This is not just any pillow, but a pillow that holds a special significance for the speaker and their loved one.

As the poem continues, we learn more about the relationship between the speaker and their beloved. They describe how they "whispered low" and "clasped hands" while lying on the pillow, creating a sense of closeness and intimacy that is both tender and poignant. The use of the word "clasped" is particularly significant here, as it suggests a sense of connection and unity between the two lovers. They are not just lying next to each other, but actively holding on to each other, creating a bond that is both physical and emotional.

However, as the poem progresses, we begin to sense a shift in the tone and mood. The speaker describes how "Time has made / That pillow thine." Here, we see the passage of time beginning to take its toll on the relationship between the two lovers. The pillow that was once a symbol of their closeness and intimacy has now become a symbol of distance and separation. The use of the word "thine" is particularly significant here, as it suggests a sense of ownership and possession that is no longer shared between the two lovers.

The final stanza of the poem is perhaps the most powerful and moving. The speaker describes how "The distance we have traveled o'er / Shall seem less wide." Here, we see the speaker acknowledging the reality of their situation, and accepting that the distance between them is now greater than it once was. However, rather than despairing at this fact, the speaker chooses to focus on the positive. They suggest that the distance they have traveled together has actually brought them closer, and that the memories of their time together will continue to sustain them even as they move further apart.

Overall, "On That Specific Pillow" is a powerful and moving poem that speaks to the universal themes of love, loss, and the passage of time. Through its evocative imagery and poignant language, it captures the essence of a relationship that has weathered the storms of life, and emerged stronger for it. Whether we are young or old, in love or out of it, this poem reminds us of the power of human connection, and the enduring nature of the bonds that we create with those we love.

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