2DICKINSON’S CHILDHOOD Emily Dickinson was born in Amherst, Massachusetts on December 10th, 1830.Attended Mount Holyoke Female Seminary.Aside from attending school, Dickinson’s daily activities in her youth included: gardening, baking, taking part in church, reading books, singing, playing piano, writing letters, and taking walks.
3Depression in her younger years Dickinson was introduced to hard times during her childhood after the death of several friends and family members.Dickinson was known to scarcely leave her home or have any visitors at all.It was during this time period when she turned to writing as an emotional outlet.
4Why is this important? CONTEXT, CONTEXT, CONTEXT! Dickinson was one of America’s most early female poets.She wrote over 1,700 poems but not all were discovered after her death.Her experiences in life greatly influenced her dark writing.
5“I Measure Every Grief I Meet” Emily Dickinson never titled her poems; her poems are identified by the first line.In this case, “I measure every Grief I meet” is the first line, the diction and capitalization of “grief” helped the structure of the first line. Grief being capitalized refers to a grieving person rather than saying “a sad person” or “a grieving person”.The second line “With narrow, probing, eyes shows how the speaker is carefuly studying each person. And then compares him/herself with other grieves.
6“I Measure Every Grief I Meet” “I wonder if it hurts to live -/ And if they have to try-/ and whether- could they choose between- / it would not be to die” These lines introduce a common motif in all of Dickinson’s poetry– death. The diction suggests that the speaker isn’t living because of the grief he or she is felling and whether grief cause the desire to no longer live.The tone of the first three stanzas is contemplative which is emphasized with the caesuras in almost each line.
7“I Measure Every Grief I Meet” The speaker is given some hope that they will see happiness because other grievers have “at length, renew[ed] their smile” (2nd line in 4th stanza).The imagery of the next two lines take that bit of hope back: “An imitation of a light/ That has so little oil”. When I read these lines, I think of a candle, that is fake and anyway is fading.
8“I Measure Every Grief I Meet” “I wonder if when Years have piled-/ Some Thousands – on the harm --/ That hurt them early – such a lapse/ Could give them any Balm”The next stanza brings up the question, does time heal with the choice of words (diction). Balm means relief and the Years that have pile other grieving people suggest the time that people have been grieving.
9“I Measure Every Grief I Meet” (Tiffany) The 6th stanza suggests that after so long, the speaker realizes all the effort others get to reach where they need to be.“Death– is but one– and comes but once--/ and only nails the eyes”. The speaker feels that he or she can’t force death upon themselves and all they can do is wait.
10“I Measure Every Grief I Meet” “There’s Grief of Want– and grief of Cold--/ a sort they call ‘Despair’–” The diction here indicates many factors as to why the speaker may feel grief and why others feel grief.“A piercing Comfort it affords”. Piercing usually is pain while comfort is calming or pleasure. This paradox shows that the speaker is somewhat content with the grieving because he or she was used to it.
11I cannot live with you I cannot live with You It would be Life- And Life is over there-Behind the ShelfOur Life-His PorcelainLike a cupMetaphor: Dickinson uses the word “Life” as a metaphor that represents the kind of hardships and restrictions that the speaker would ultimately face if they were to spend the rest of their lives with their loved one.Diction: Dickinson uses the phrase “Behind the Shelf” to emphasize how unattainable life would be with this person who the speaker is in love with. Their love is something that is literally unattainable, like someone trying to grab something behind a shelf.Symbolism: “Life” is being referred to as a porcelain cup in both stanzas 2 and 3, Dickinson uses this object to symbolize the fragileness of the speaker’s love, also to show the impossibility of their relationship.
12I cannot live with youAnd see you—freeze Without my Right of Frost So We must meet apart— (Throughout the poem’s entirety)Connotation: Dickinson uses the word “frost” to represent the speaker’s meeting with death, and the word “freeze” to represent that of their lover’s. It seems as though “frost” has a more positive connotation than “freeze”, this is used to indicate the slight desire of death that the speaker had for themselves.Paradox: How can two people “meet apart”? Dickinson uses this contradiction to represent the inevitable separation of the lovers.Dickinson creates the theme of forbidden love and intertwines it with the tragic irony that the speaker faces as they are going through an intense phase of loving someone and ultimately, finding themselves alone and in complete despair.