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What is a literary analysis of this poem "Death is the supple suitor," including the...

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hjyhjy | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted May 17, 2013 at 1:49 PM via web

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What is a literary analysis of this poem "Death is the supple suitor," including the poet's attitude toward death?

Death is the supple Suitor
That wins at last-
Conducted first
By pallid innuendoes
And dim approach
But brave at last with Bugles
And a biseated Coach
It bears away in triumph
To troth unknown
And kinsmen as divulgeless
As Clans of Down-

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 18, 2013 at 12:12 AM (Answer #1)

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Many of Emily Dickinson's critically acclaimed poems are powerful ones that center upon the theme of death. At times Death is personified as a suitor leading one to immortality; at others, Death is an enemy defeated by immortality. There is another poem similar to "Death is a supple Suitor"; namely,  “All but Death, can be Adjusted” (#749), a short poem about death’s irrevocability and unchanging condition.

In "Death is a supple Suitor," Dickinson describes the surreptitious power of death that wins over life with "pallid innuendoes" and "dim approach," metaphors for the subtle aging that weakens life, as well as people's lack of recognition of the changes within them. However, when Death finally succeeds and conquers lives, it becomes "brave," and its presence is obvious.

But brave at last with Bugles
And a biseated Coach

The use of alliteration speeds these lines, a condition that connotes the sudden surprise of the "innuendoes" of death upon people.

Then, in the funeral service, Death carries away in "triumph" the person. In ceremony it carries away the dead to "troth unknown," a place of truth, but a place that no one knows-- a metaphor for eternity.

Interestingly, there is another version of the last two lines of this poem:

And Kindred as responsive
As Porcelain.

But, both versions indicate that souls are kindred in their state of immortality, but the relationship is fragile as these souls differ much from each other.

Here again Dickinson is somewhat ambiguous in her interpretation of Death. However, she recognizes it as a power that conquers everyone and, in this state, all people are kindred.

 

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