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The packaging of meaning in poetry is largely dependent on form. The kind of form chosen by the poet determines the degree of effectiveness in the portrayal of meaning. In some poems, poets have sought to invent a combination of formal structures in order to capture the tone and thematic dimensions of a poem more appropriately. Emily Dickinson uses quatrain contrasts, alliteration, symbolism, and rhyme to package a critical message against orthodox religious practices. Essentially, the whole poem presents the difference between two worldviews. The worldview of the persona is dominated by her peculiar assessment on matters of religion and worship (Dickinson 78).
On the other hand, the worldview of the people represented by the “Some” in the poem is controlled by traditional and conventional religious practices. The persona contrasts these worldviews using perfect rhyming. Rhyme in poetry is often used to bring about patterns and rhythm. Dickinson invents a certain pattern, which illustrates the differences between her views of religious practices against the dominant views of the society. The rhyming of words such as “Wings” and “Sings” shows the poets objective of creating a division between her own views and those embraced by the majority of people in the society (Dickinson 122).
Alongside rhyme, the poet also incorporates meter in an attempt to capture the rhythm of difference between the two radically opposed positions. The technique of articulating differences through worldviews shows the manner in which the poet combines the different elements through a hierarchical structure of importance. It is obvious that Dickinson attempts to privilege her position above that held by the “Some” in the poem. The poet engages the matter of religion in a manner that shows her opposition to the normative assumptions and cultural inertia of practices. Satire and ridicule are some of the devices that are brought out through the adoption of these forms. The use of perfect rhyming enables the author to expose and dismantle these normative assumptions and practices.
The poet does not expressly buy the support of the reader towards her worldview, but she structures the formal aspects of the poem in a manner that sounds both rhetorical and critical of the position held by the “Some” in the poem (Dickinson 155). Notably, the poet also uses rhetorical devices of repetition and contrast to illustrate the manner in which her perspective is logically superior to the one she analyzes. The quatrain in every stanza begins with the position taken by the “Some” and is followed by the persona’s preferred position and response. This rhetorical technique leaves a lasting impression in the minds of the reader regarding the persona’s position. The approach is highly illustrative of the manner in which the central argument in the poem thrives on a system of differences.
The first position presents the view of the dominant group. The second position is poised to attack the merits of the first position. Up to this point, it becomes obvious that the poet’s main intention is to set up the conventional positions for attack. She builds the first position in order to destroy it. This kind of approach demands that the author enlists the most effective form of poetry to ridicule and destroy one side of the argument with the objective of creating some space in the mind of the reader. The space created by the author allows his position to thrive and flourish. Throughout the argument, the poet uses logos and pathos in order to convince the reader on the merits of his position. It is clear that the eventual position that dominates is that of the author.
Formal device is another device that is used liberally in the poem is alliteration. Words like Sabbath and Surplice are used to reinforce the schism between the two rival positions. Alliteration is used to conjure up images of the differences that exist between the two positions. Its effectiveness is illustrated in the two world orders that are represented by the poet’s belief and the normative practices that are evident in the practices of the wider community. Alliteration helps the poet to set up a private world of independent thought to challenge the bigger world of dominant views. Furthermore, alliteration helps the author to establish the essential differences that exist between the two belief systems.
The words used have some subliminal force that affects the thinking process of the readers. This force operates below the surface and enables the author to aim his critical views at the heart of the prevailing and dominant perspectives of the society. Although the author does not advance critical opinions to back up her positions, it is clear that she targets the subconscious and reflective parts of the readers. Through the articulation of the sounds in the poem, the reader eventually buys into the reflective process of the persona. Part of the meaning of this poem is that people should attempt to exercise their inner reflections regarding matters that relate to religion and religious practices. The poet advocates for the cultivation of the inner self.
The poet satirizes the people who tend to manage their lives in a manner that seeks to appease the outside world (Dickinson 212). Religion and religious practices are inner processes of an individual and must be practiced in a way that conforms to the private concerns of an individual. As a result, the author has built a world in which the process of thought is significant to the soul and spirit more than the body. Symbolism is used extensively in this poem to bring out the contrast between the two worlds. The use of symbolism dominates the poem through processes that illustrate the essential differences between the two worlds. The orchard in this poem is meant to bring out the meaning of private peace. It recalls to the imagination the peaceful and idyllic existence of life in the Garden of Eden.
This peaceful and tranquil existence can only occur when people sink deeply into their inner beings. At this level, the reflection becomes clear since the inner world, unlike the outside world, does not reflect any elements of pretense. The articulation of the new form of religious practice relies on symbolism to create a merger between nature and spiritualism. The bobolink would represent the purity of the poet’s spirit as it manifests within the private space of the orchard (Dickinson 67). Similarly, the wearing of wings conjures up the image of angelic existence. According to the poet, it is possible for an individual to reconcile the spiritual and bodily aspects of his or her life by adopting practices that align with the demands of the spirit.
Up to this point, it is evident that the forms of poetry adopted by Dickinson successfully enable the poem to advance the message of the superiority of the inner self over public image. The forms adopted enabled the poet to create a divide between her religious philosophies and the cultural patterns that are embraced by members of the public represented by the “Some” in the poem. Much of the meaning in this poem is situated in the formal elements. The poem would not have effectively brought out the contrast between the two perspectives had the poet settled for alternative elements of form.