There’s a certain Slant of light,
- Slant capitalized for emphasis.
- End stop with a comma unusual for Dickinson
- Light established as subject–conceit?
- Consonance on “s” & “t”
Winter Afternoons –
- Winter & Afternoons both capitalized; both emphasized
- Isolation also emphasizes
- Characteristic Dickinson dash! Rhythmic affectation
- Part of the first syntactical unit
- Winter associations: Bleak, cold, peaceful, barren
- Afternoon associations: Pleasant, peaceful, domestic, winding-down.
That oppresses, like the Heft
- Heft capitalized, emphasis
- use of comma as caesura: Stillness of the afternoon’s oppression
- No end stop at all; smaller rhythmic pause–less isolation of heft. Almost like the small breath one takes when “hefting” something.
Of Cathedral Tunes –
- Parallel structure to line 2: Formation of pattern. Like routine? Like melody of “tunes”?
- Full capitalization again.
- Tunes an interesting word for cathedral music. Tunes has connotations of silliness, lightness. Cathedral has connotations of heaviness, melancholy. Contrast parallels contrast within Winter afternoon.
Heavenly Hurt, it gives us –
- Caesura comma again PLUS ALSO end stopped with a dash. Very broken rhythm.
- Alliteration on “H” makes it seem more unified.
- Double capitalization emphasizes the oxymoron. More contrasts!
- Weird syntactical structure puts Heavenly Hurt first in sentence, more spotlighting.
We can find no scar,
- Comma end stop. Complete thought.
- Something of the syntax: the finding of “No” another contradiction. A positive and a negative.
But internal difference –
- Incomplete syntactical unit. Works with the preceding thought but continues incomplete.
- Break accentuated by the use of the dash.
Where the meanings, are –
- Weird comma! Weird Comma! Forces a pause after meanings. More emphasis on it.
- Very broken rhythm
- Dash right after “are” creates suspense.
None may teach it – Any –
- V. Confusing syntactically
- None may teach it where the meanings are?
- None may teach it in the place where there are meanings?
- Both “It” and “Any” highly ambiguous.
- It: the light, the heavenly hurt, the scar, internal difference. All possible readings.
- Any: Doesn’t connect to anything? Implies a limitlessness but also deliberate vagueness connected to the vagueness in its connotation. Similar to the contradictions used before?
- Dashes: Very broken up but not gently or syntactically
‘Tis the Seal Despair –
- Archaic phrasing
- metaphor: Light as the tenor, Seal Despair as vehicle, meaning that the light carries the mark of despair, indicates despair’s power and property.
- Consonance on “s”
- Curious omission of “of”. Sounds more ominous, vaguely French. More concrete.
- Ends in dash. Broken at end stop
An imperial affliction
- I expected “imperial affliction” to be capitalized. De-emphasized almost
- No punctuation at all–more de-emphasis. Faster pacing.
- Another metaphor: Tenor, the light, vehicle an affliction. Comparing the light to a disease.
- Somewhat of a contradiction in imperial and affliction: Imperial great, powerful and positive (generally) affliction negative, crippling and sad. Both have a dignified connotation.
Sent us of the Air –
- Return to the use of dash.
- “Us” ambiguous. Speaker and reader? Speaker and addressee beyond the reader? Speaker and author? All humanity?
- “Air” capitalized for emphasis.
- “air” somewhat connoted with Heaven/God/Holy Spirit especially with capitalization. An affliction sent from heaven? Literally sent from the heavens above: the sun. A divine punishment?
- Could also be a pun on “putting on airs”, as in a punishment for being snobby. That’s probably a stretch.
When it comes, the Landscape listens –
- “It” another ambiguity. Probably the light.
- Caesura comma and final dash. Balanced and full of pauses.
- Landscape emphasized with capitalization. Also personified
- alliteration on “L”
Shadows – hold their breath –
- Dashes evoke the holding of breath
- Personification of shadows
When it goes, ’tis like the Distance
- Comma as caesura.
- Parallel but opposite to first line. As a comparative, like the comparisons/oxymorons
- Distance capitalized for emphasis.
- simile prompted: Tenor the light (it) vehicle “the distance”
On the look of Death –
- Finishing simile: Full vehicle “the Distance/on the look of Death”
- Means Death’s facial expression as far as I can tell.
- Keeps the “of” in contrast to Seal Despair. Probably for clarity sake?
- Dash at the end generates a sense of suspense.
- Capitalization for Death emphasis.
- Repetition of “D” sound for last word in previous line
Overall: Four quatrains. Rhyme scheme: ABCB with A & C containing similar sounds except in the third quatrain. Irregular meter.
I’m interested in exploring the implications of the comparisons and oxymorons within the diction and how they create a evocative tone that isolates a single instant and emotion concurrently.