Poetry Reflection: Emily Dickinson & E. E. Cummings

Life is a series of events that we often cannot control. In essence, our life can be viewed as different seasons. Sometimes we bright and alive like spring, while other times we feel cold and alone like winter. The five poems presented in class this week express this same sentiment. Consider Emily Dickinson’s poem as an example. Each stanza appears to be a season in life. Sometimes the character is alive and smiling, while other lines have the character in the darkness wondering if she will live after all. In one moment, she feels powerful and alive, and the next she feels as though she might die.

Each subsequent poem also reveals the same thought process. The poem by Cummings is especially revealing as even the organization of each stanza indicates the uncertainty of life. Each line is unpredictable, and the reader must take a moment to understand what is taking place. That certainly keeps with the theme of life being unpredictable. At the same time, life can be enjoyable and serene. Consider the poem by Williams. If only we only had a Red Wheelbarrow, life would be much more peaceful and we would be able to sit back and enjoy the ‘rain and the chickens’ that surround us.

Another poem that shows the unpredictability of life is ‘Snow’. Cummings sure knows how to demonstrate his point through his simple use of abnormal stanza organization. In this poem, he even alternates between all capital letters and all lowercase letters. Either life is completely full, or it is completely empty. At the same time, George Herbert provides us with yet another serene look at life from the perspective of Easter. We might be growing old, but the season of spring can bring us back to life, even if just for a short time. Each of these poems is certainly an expression of life, hope, and despair – all at the same time.

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