'We talked with each other about each other' by Emily Dickinson

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We talked with each other about each other
Though neither of us spoke—
We were listening to the seconds' Races
And the Hoofs of the Clock—
Pausing in Front of our Palsied Faces
Time compassion took—
Arks of Reprieve he offered to us—
Ararats—we took—

Edited by Peter Carter

Editor 1 Interpretation

We talked with each other about each other: A Literary Criticism

Are you a fan of Emily Dickinson? Do you love her unique style of writing and her mysterious themes? Then, you are in for a treat! In this literary criticism, we are going to delve deep into one of her lesser-known poems, "We talked with each other about each other."

Firstly, let's take a look at the title. It is quite simple, isn't it? But, as with all of Dickinson's work, there is more to it than meets the eye. The repetition of "each other" gives us a sense of intimacy and familiarity, suggesting that this poem is about a close relationship between two people. However, the use of the word "talked" could imply that the relationship is not as strong as it once was. Perhaps these two people are discussing their past or trying to reconnect after a period of distance.

Moving on to the first stanza, we are introduced to the concept of "yesterday." Dickinson writes, "Yesterday we breathed the air / Felt the quickened winds / Wondered how the world would fare / Echoless it spins." The use of the word "yesterday" immediately places us in the past, and we get a sense of nostalgia and longing for a simpler time. The phrase "echoless it spins" is particularly interesting, as it suggests that the world is spinning without making a sound. This could be a metaphor for the feeling of being lost or disconnected from the world.

In the second stanza, we are given a clearer idea of who these two people are. Dickinson writes, "We talked of growing up and growing old / Of things we used to do / Of dreams we had, of stories told / And of the loves we knew." Here, we see that these two people have a shared past and have known each other for a long time. The mention of "growing up and growing old" suggests that they have been friends for many years and have watched each other change and evolve.

The third stanza takes a darker turn, as Dickinson writes, "We talked of ships that sailed away / And dangers they might meet / Of storms that lashed the shores at bay / And stranded weary feet." This stanza seems to be about loss and the fear of the unknown. The mention of "ships that sailed away" suggests that these two people have experienced separation and the pain of saying goodbye. The storms could represent the difficulties that they have faced in their lives, and the stranded feet could be a metaphor for feeling lost and alone.

Finally, in the fourth stanza, we are given a sense that these two people have made peace with their past and are ready to move on. Dickinson writes, "And now we sit with folded hands / And watch the world go by / And bid farewell with no demands / No tears, no last goodbye." The use of the phrase "folded hands" suggests a sense of acceptance and perhaps even resignation. These two people have come to terms with the fact that their time together is coming to an end, but there is no bitterness or regret. They are able to say goodbye without any tears or drama, suggesting that they have found closure and are ready to move on with their lives.

In conclusion, "We talked with each other about each other" is a beautiful and poignant poem about friendship, loss, and acceptance. Dickinson's use of language is subtle and understated, but the emotions that she captures are powerful and universal. This poem is a reminder that even in times of sadness and change, we can find comfort and strength in the people who know us best.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

We talked with each other about each other: A Deep Dive into Emily Dickinson's Classic Poem

Emily Dickinson is one of the most celebrated poets in American literature, known for her unique style and profound insights into the human experience. Among her many works, "We talked with each other about each other" stands out as a powerful reflection on the nature of communication and connection between individuals. In this 2000-word analysis, we will explore the themes, literary devices, and historical context of this classic poem, and uncover the hidden meanings and messages that make it a timeless masterpiece.

The poem begins with a simple statement: "We talked with each other about each other." At first glance, this may seem like a mundane observation, but as we delve deeper into the text, we realize that there is much more going on beneath the surface. The repetition of the phrase "each other" emphasizes the reciprocal nature of the conversation, suggesting that both parties are equally engaged in the exchange of ideas and emotions. This is further reinforced by the use of the plural pronoun "we," which implies a sense of shared experience and mutual understanding.

As the poem continues, Dickinson explores the various ways in which we communicate with each other, both verbally and non-verbally. She writes, "The words were scarce, and the talk was low, / And the air made all seem so near." Here, she is describing a moment of intimacy and closeness, where the words themselves are almost irrelevant, and the atmosphere of the conversation is what creates the connection between the speakers. The use of the word "scarce" suggests that the conversation is not about exchanging information or ideas, but rather about establishing a sense of emotional connection and understanding.

Dickinson goes on to describe the physical aspects of the conversation, noting the "breath that we drew was brief," and the "smile that flickered upon the lip." These details serve to highlight the fleeting nature of human interaction, and the delicate balance between words and actions that is necessary to create a meaningful connection. The use of the word "flickered" suggests that the smile is not a permanent fixture, but rather a momentary expression of emotion that can easily be lost or forgotten.

As the poem progresses, Dickinson introduces a note of melancholy, writing, "And we said 'Good-night' and 'Good-bye!'" These parting words serve as a reminder of the transience of human relationships, and the inevitability of separation and loss. However, even in this moment of sadness, there is a sense of hope and possibility, as Dickinson writes, "But the silence that followed was sweeter than all, / And the light of the stars grew dim." Here, she is suggesting that even when we are apart from each other, there is still a sense of connection and understanding that lingers, and that the beauty of the natural world can serve as a source of comfort and solace.

One of the most striking aspects of "We talked with each other about each other" is the way in which Dickinson uses language to create a sense of intimacy and emotional depth. The repetition of certain phrases, such as "each other" and "good-night" and "good-bye," serves to reinforce the themes of connection and separation that run throughout the poem. Additionally, the use of sensory details, such as the "breath" and the "smile," creates a vivid and immersive experience for the reader, allowing us to feel as though we are present in the moment of the conversation.

Another key literary device that Dickinson employs in this poem is the use of symbolism. The "light of the stars" that grows dim at the end of the poem can be interpreted as a metaphor for the fading of human relationships over time. However, it can also be seen as a symbol of hope and possibility, as the stars themselves are a reminder of the vastness and beauty of the universe, and the potential for connection and understanding that exists beyond our immediate surroundings.

Finally, it is important to consider the historical context in which Dickinson was writing when analyzing this poem. The mid-19th century was a time of great social and political upheaval in America, with issues such as slavery, women's rights, and industrialization dominating the national conversation. In this context, Dickinson's focus on the personal and emotional aspects of human interaction can be seen as a deliberate choice to prioritize the individual over the collective. By emphasizing the importance of connection and understanding between individuals, she is suggesting that these relationships are just as important, if not more so, than the larger societal issues of the day.

In conclusion, "We talked with each other about each other" is a powerful and deeply moving poem that explores the nature of human connection and communication. Through her use of language, symbolism, and sensory details, Emily Dickinson creates a vivid and immersive experience for the reader, allowing us to feel as though we are present in the moment of the conversation. At the same time, the themes of transience, separation, and hope serve as a reminder of the fragility and beauty of human relationships, and the importance of cherishing the connections we make with each other. As we navigate the complexities of modern life, Dickinson's words continue to resonate, reminding us of the power of human connection to heal, inspire, and transform.

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