Course Hero. "Poems of Emily Dickinson (Selected) Study Guide." Course Hero. 13 Apr. 2018. Web. 8 Aug. 2020. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Poems-of-Emily-Dickinson-Selected/>.
Course Hero. (2018, April 13). Poems of Emily Dickinson (Selected) Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved August 8, 2020, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Poems-of-Emily-Dickinson-Selected/
(Course Hero, 2018)
Course Hero. "Poems of Emily Dickinson (Selected) Study Guide." April 13, 2018. Accessed August 8, 2020. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Poems-of-Emily-Dickinson-Selected/.
Course Hero, "Poems of Emily Dickinson (Selected) Study Guide," April 13, 2018, accessed August 8, 2020, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Poems-of-Emily-Dickinson-Selected/.
Course Hero Literature Instructor Russell Jaffe provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Emily Dickinson's poem "The Brain—is wider than the Sky—."
The three stanzas of this poem, which adhere to Dickinson's typical use of standard ballad meter, describe the brain. In the first stanza the speaker asserts the brain is wider than the sky because it can hold within it all of the seemingly limitless sky and still have room for the reader, You. In the second stanza, the speaker says the brain is deeper than the sea because it can absorb all the sea contains. In the third stanza the speaker maintains the brain's weight is just about equal to that of God, and if there is any difference it is as minuscule as the difference between "Syllable" and "Sound."
In this poem Dickinson uses three conceits, or extended metaphors, to celebrate the power of the brain. To Dickinson, the word brain means "understanding or imagination," and as a poet she was fascinated by the power of the creative imagination. The brain can contain the sky or the sea, not literally of course, but in terms of understanding or imagination. By comparing the brain to God, she is recognizing its creative, imaginative power. Furthermore, by noting the similarity between "Syllable" and "Sound," she is acknowledging the way the brain uses language to understand and create.
The close structural parallelism of the three stanzas enhances the musical quality of the poem. The first lines begin with the same words: "The Brain is." The second lines are all closely parallel, beginning with "For" and ending with two repeated nouns joined by a preposition. Considerable repetition of structure appears in the third and fourth lines as well.