abstract illustration of a coffin, forest, and clouds with the ouline of a human face superimposed on everything

I felt a Funeral, in my Brain

by Emily Dickinson

Start Free Trial

How might Emily Dickinson's poem "I felt a Funeral, in my Brain" represent women's quest for knowledge?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In her poem "I Felt a Funeral in my Brain," Dickinson describes the movements of a funeral disturbing the narrator's mind. Mourners are moving back and forth inside her head, and the service is beating "till I thought/My mind was going numb." The mourners lift a heavy box with their lead-like boots, and the heavens are ringing in her ears. Towards the end of the poem, a "plank in Reason" breaks, and she falls through this plank. She then "finishes knowing," meaning that she can no longer relate what is happening to her. 

This poem implies that reason is what keeps the mind together. It is represented by the symbol of a plank that underlies the entire mind. When this plank breaks and when reason fails, the author is left plunging without awareness of where she is heading. Therefore, this poem can be seen as her quest for knowledge and reason to keep her mind and faculties intact and to protect them against falling into chaos. Women need to have knowledge and reason to keep their minds together. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team