second poem

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second poem

Post  Ms.B on Thu Apr 30, 2009 8:22 am

Welcome back for more! Here we have a lovely little number by Emily Dickinson:
Any words you don't know I recommend you look up (dictionary.com is a good place to go while you are online). Enjoy!

Safe in their Alabaster Chambers—
Untouched by Morning
And untouched by Noon—
Lie the meek members of the Resurrection—
Rafter of Satin—and Roof of Stone!

Grand go the Years—in the Crescent—above them—
Worlds scoop their Arcs—
And Firmaments—row—
Diadems—drop—and Doges—surrender—
Soundless as dots—on a Disc of Snow—

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Post  Ms.B on Sat May 02, 2009 5:48 am

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Re: second poem

Post  Luisa on Sat May 02, 2009 7:48 pm

Considering that at this point we are all well aware of Emily Dickinson’s aptitude for writing about death, we can verify, through referring to “Resurrection”, that she regards death as the stopping of life’s magnificence continuity. This can be inferred when Dickinson says that the “meek”, overly submissive or spiritless “members of the Resurrection” remain “untouched” by “Morning” and “Noon”. One might interpret this as life’s ceasing to exist since the dead become detached from the moments pertaining to the day, or, the continuity of time. Contrasting to this idea, Dickinson conveys that time does go on, even though death, as inevitable as it is, reaches some. This message can be identified when she says that “Grand go the Years”, or, life’s magnitude remains existing in the “Crescent” above the “meek members”, the dead. The inevitability of death can also be noticed in the last lines of the last stanza, where she reveals how “Diadems drop” and how “Doges surrender” or, how the things that men praise to be worthy: power, wealth, status, all end when one ceases to live and become as “soundless as dots on a disc of Snow”.
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Re: second poem

Post  Bibi on Sat May 02, 2009 11:43 pm

It's astounding how the very first line of the poem already enthralls the reader to take a closer look at what is being exposed by Dickinson, -- the fact that these "members" are lying in "Chambers," or coffins, already builds up this morbid atmosphere of hopelessness recurring through the stanzas. For starters, to say that they are "safe" intrigues us in the sense that we come to question from whom or from what, perhaps the harshness of life, the difficulties of reality: if our fears are only existent when we are alive, then it makes sense that to be dead means to be secure. This new approach to the end of life is quite reassuring. These "Chambers," nonetheless, are characterized as being "Alabaster," or densely translucent / light white, meaning that the heavenly religious aspect humans give are not an indication of one's spiritual breakthrough, but of the physicality that encompasses death itself. Dickinson continues on to explain that they are "untouched by Morning" and "by Noon," signaling that as well as there is no prospect of awakening, light or hope, there is none when time goes by and the sun's brightness increases outside during midday, in their "Alabaster Chambers" nothing appears to have changed. These "members of the Resurrection" (some irony here, why would they lie in death being associates of a rebirth group?) are "meek," which means that they have this humble patience and docile submissiveness regarding… God? So they have been waiting for their "Resurrection," and the only who could grant them would be the Almighty, and if there is no such – then they have been waiting in vain, and religion has blinded these pious man with faith instead of opening their eyes with the truth. Quite unsettling… Regardless, these “Chambers” are described in line 5 with “Satin” and “Stone” covering layers, translating both the positive, smooth, and the negative, hard, facets of death.

The second stanza proceeds with the idea that, as Luisa mentioned, time is passing by, given that now the “Crescent” is above them, in other words, the daylight has now been replaced with the moon’s brilliance and the night’s darkness. Regardless of the changing course of the earth outside, how “grand go the Years,” death is still and silenced inside the “Chambers.”

In lines 8 and 9, some interesting thoughts are revealed, the fact that the “Firmaments,” the vault of heaven / sky, “row[s]” gives the feeling that, again, nature continues with its perpetual cycle, while the “Diadems – drops” and the “Doges – surrender.” These last images are those of a crown, suggesting a level of royalty and social status, and of chief magistrates who would wear these glamorous possessions, and they add to the belief that nature is enduring, it “rows” because its persisting on the river of life like nothing else, and these ostentatiously meaningful objects are rather worthless, they ultimately, fall and cease to be so precious after death. Additionally, the image of them descending “Soundless as dots” enhances their insignificance and contributes to the author’s overall pondering analysis about the inevitability of death and how, in life, being part of mankind, we must come to value what’s essential to our souls, not to our beings. Did you catch the difference?
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Re: second poem

Post  Oscar on Sun May 03, 2009 1:34 pm

To begin with, we, as readers, may take for granted some specific aspects of a given poem's style by knowing by advance its writer; for instance, in the case of Emily Dickinson, we could fairly expect the use of hyphens' structure, of a widespread capitalization, and as Luisa pointed out, of a deep inclination for Death as a central theme.

In the first stanza, the "Alabaster Chambers" immediatly makes me think of a cemetery or a crypt; in this phrase underlies immobility, death. The use mineral-related words, such as "Alabaster", "Roof of Stone", creates a gloomy feeling of the absence of life and of movement (like back in a tale of two cities, the garden of the Marquis st Evrémonde is full of statues, as a way to point out absence of life Exclamation )

As mentioned by Luisa, there is a contrast between the perception of time in and out the chambers, as inside the chambers, the "members" are "untouched by Morning/Noon", pointing out that Time does not affect them (since they are supposedly dead!), and outside the chambers "grand go the years [...] above them", the use of "year" emphasizing the huge passage of time out of the chambers (in the living world)in contrast with the use of day ("untouched by Morning/Noon) as a measure of time in the chambers. This isolation from the passage of time seems to strengthen this “morbid atmosphere”, as mentioned by Bibi, by emphasizing death’s empire over the “meek members”

By comparing “diadems” to “dots – on a disk of snow”, Dickinson wants to make clear that human pride and want for power, symbolized by “diadems”, are absolutely “worthless” (sorry Bibi, I can’t think of another word to describe what I want to say) when compared to the greatness of Nature, symbolized by “Worlds” and “Firmament” in the poem.
To finish, I want to say that the capitalization used by Dickinson emphasizes bunch of significant phrases, such as “Alabaster Chambers”, “Resurrection”, among many others.
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Re: second poem

Post  leitz on Mon May 04, 2009 10:49 am

Keeping with her traits, Emily Dickinson describes the timelesness of death and the eternal and inevitable cycle of life and death. The "alabaster chambers" represent sarcophaguses, while the fact that they are stone demonstrates the cold and distant nature of death. The fact that the body is never touched by "morning" or "noon" means only night comes in contact with the remains, clear evidence of unending darkness, an eternal night without change, in which death reigns supreme. That the members of resurection are weak reenforces that death is ever lasting and that opposition is futile, while the "rafters of satin" demonstrate the attempt to add beauty to cover the roof of cold "stone", a symbol of lifelessness. The second stanza reiterates the timelessness of death and the inevitableness of death. Descriptions such as "grand go the years" and the use of diction such as "row" and "surrender" show contiuation and ending, reenforcing that death is endless and empty.

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Re: second poem

Post  rapoch on Mon May 04, 2009 7:28 pm

Despite the fact that the previous replies already discuss most the points I wished to make, there are indeed a few other ideas I would like to explore.

A confusing term that caught my attention was the word "Resurrection", which is used to define the "members", or those that have perished and are now confined in the chambers and tombstones. After pondering, I came up with the theory that such expression might have been used in order to depict the continuous cycle of time. The term basically points out the fact that human beings are dieng and others are, in some way, ressurecting or being born. Such expression is consequently used in order to emphasize the passage of Time most explicitly shown through the expression "grand go the years". It enforces the concept that individual beings are insignificant or "soundless as dots" because the universe does not discern each one, but instead is only able to see that these "members" die and are reborn, the cycle of life. Thus, the adjective "meek", utilized to describe the "members", further highlight the powerless position of human beings in the face of Time.

Another line which also grabbed my attention was "Rafter of Satin—and Roof of Stone!". Here, Dickinson contrasts the fragility of the individual with the chamber that separates him from the powerful Time that rules the world outside. Because the chamber is able to, as strange as it may sound, protect the individual from Time for, as Bibi stated, its "members" are no longer subject to the harshness of life or the difficulties of reality, the roof (referring to the tombstone that lays above the heads of the dead) is appropriately described as being made out of stone for it is stiff, strong and protective. Quite to the contrary, the rafters, which are structures that serve as support, refer to the human beings (perhaps even their bones?) and the word "satin" is appropriately associated with them for it reveals the delicate and fragile life of an individual. Despite being a fragile cloth, if "satin" is viewed as an expensive material, the line might also be referring specifically to those individuals of great importance such as kings and queens, idea also explored further in the poem with words such as "diadems" and "doges". Then, the approach given by the author would be that of emphasiying the fact that Time does not distinguish the noble from the peasantry and instead is unbiased.
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Re: second poem

Post  Bia on Mon May 04, 2009 7:56 pm

As before stated, the poem by Emily Dickinson portrays an imagine of death, contrasting it with the continuity of life. It is interesting to observe how the ones who die become “untouched by morning, [noon]” and by everything else since they are “safe in their chambers”. Also, to an extent is seems that these people have been forgotten, since “grand go the years above them” meaning that live continues independent of the ones who have died. Emily Dickinson uses dashes to move from one idea to the other but, at the same time, to exemplify the passing of time. We are able to observe that the second stanza (the one which directly deals with the transition of time) has more dashes then the first one. Amusingly, the poem’s last punctuation mark is also a dash, showing that even though the poem has ended the cycle of life and death still continues.
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Re: second poem

Post  Milla on Tue May 05, 2009 4:57 pm

Emily Dickinson portrays in this poem the inevitability of time passing and death, specifically for the powerful and rich, who believe they can control or prevent death. The wealth and importance of the "members" are shown by describing the grave as being made of "alabaster" and "satin", which are expensive materials, and by using the words "diadems" and "doges", which suggest royalty and richness.

The first stanza can be interpreted as the "members" after their death, since they are found in a "chamber" - which most have agreed to be their grave - and their incapability of touching, or seeing and recognizing, morning and noon, therefore, showing the unawareness of time after death. Referring them as "member of the Resurrection" means that these are the ones who want to overcome death ( maybe it may even mean that they believe in life after death - think of the Egyptian pharaohs and the ostentatious pyramids made after they die!) and since they were unsuccessfully submitted to it even so, they are described as meek.

Like Raphael said, the "roof of stone" is the tomb of the deceased, and the "rafter of satin" supports it underneath the roof, meaning that the satin is only what the dead can see and the tomb is only what the living can see. You can also relate this to the fact that the rich and powerful try to hide death with their money (satin fabric), but it is still inevitable and harsh/hard (like stone).

The second stanza can be interpreted as referring to the life of the "members". The verse "Grand go the Years - in the Crescent - above them-" refers to time passing and the moon (death?) is always above them. But despite their greatness ($$$), their "diadems - drop" and their positions ("doges") "surrender", which means that their wealth and power are worthless for death and they die regardless of their status, becoming "soundless as dots - on a disc of snow", which contrasts with the greatness they had when they lived.
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Re: second poem

Post  Mai on Tue May 05, 2009 8:29 pm

As most of us have mentioned, Emily Dickinson is known for exploring the theme of death in many of her poems, the mortality that discharges the religious idea of the "eternal life". To her, one's soul (one of the "members of Resurrection"), when dead, can never be rescued or , since it will be "safe" in the "Alabaster Chambers" and "untouched" by the "Morning" and "Noon" (passage of time), on a "Roof of Stone", in other words, unattainable, and its absoluteness and inevitability of death is permanent, even as "Grand go the Years", as it is evidenced in the entire second stanza. In general lines, Dickinson does not consider any of the religious beliefs of the afterlife, and gives a heavy explanation and exemplification of what she thinks happens when one dies.
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Re: second poem

Post  Nabiyah on Tue May 05, 2009 9:19 pm

The poem is an example of the inevitability of death and the continuity of life, as many have already mentioned. The first stanza gives emphasis on how the “members of the Resurrection” in other words, the dead, are “meek”, small and submissive among the only certainty humans have in a lifetime: death. The fact that they are awaiting “Resurrection” in a chamber, enhances an idea of life after death, suggesting the emphasis of the second stanza: the continuity of life. In the second stanza there is also a refference to how mere human beings are among the plenitude and inevitability of death, in the verses "Diadems—drop—and Doges—surrender—", meaning that even the most powerfull and with most authority, will indeed have their crowns taken by time.
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second poem

Post  juracy on Wed May 06, 2009 9:47 am

** THIS IS CAMILA, BY THE WAY... i forgot my password and oscar is not here to help me solve this problem
The problem is fixed, please check your email box Smile
Sorry for the delay
Oscar


What most caught my attention is the unusual punctuation used by Dickinson. As seen before, she writes her poetry within informal boundaries, which includes unset structure, maybe lack of rhyme and different punctuation. In the two stanzas of the poem, only dashes can be found. The large amount of dashes, sometimes separating only two words or ending a line, has significance in the meaning of the poem as a whole. In the first stanza, the dashes are only at the end of the lines, giving the impression that Dickinson lists a chain of events. The dashes connect an event to the next. In the second stanza, the several dashes indicate the same sense of continuity, as well as they set a quicker pace. These dashes make the poem “faster”, as if a scene is being narrated. The final dash, at the end of the last line, is responsible for the idea that what happens is a cycle that will repeat itself.

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Re: second poem

Post  ana on Wed May 06, 2009 3:22 pm

A specific contradiction caught my attention in this poem: the "rafters of satin" and "roofs of stone". This shows how the dead are at peace and comfortable since they are wrapped in satin, which is soft and smooth. However, this peace and comfort conveyed by the image of the "satin" contrasts with the image of the roof of stone. The roof of stone shows how there is no escape from death--how the dead will never escape their tombs. However, the roof of stone can also be keeping something out, contributing to the peace of the dead. Therefore, if the roof is viewed as a form of imprisoning the dead, then they might be wrapped in satin, but that is all they will ever have, for they will lie there, in the tomb, forever, which would be negative. However, if the roof is a protection, the speaker conveys the message that death brings eternal peace, given that the dead will be eternally comfortable and undisturbed. The image has contradictory interpretations, one adding to the idealization of the peace death brings, the other contrasting the positive image of comfort with imprisonment.
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Re: second poem

Post  ana on Wed May 06, 2009 3:33 pm

Though I find your interpretation very interesting, Milla, when you associate "satin" with wealth and have a theory on how people with money try to hide death behind ostentation in one way or another, I don't think this is about rich or poor in any way. I think satin is much more a symbol of comfort or, as Leitz said, an attempt to make death appear "prettier".... I really can't see the money deal in this poem. I agree with Mai though, its about portraying death without influence of religion, etc.
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Re: second poem

Post  Luisa on Thu May 07, 2009 5:24 pm

Referring to what Raphael said about the chambers protecting the members from the "harshness of life or the difficulties of reality", I'm not sure I can agree to this idea. If this were to be true, why would Dickinson refer to the Years that go above them, in the Crescent, as "grand"? Further on, I dont think her intention is to reveal the insignificance of the individual but yet the hopelesness that exists in life when it must eventually and inevitably face death. The use of the expression "soundless as dots" refers to the fall of the "diadems" enforcing the concept that life is inert once death arrives; this inertia can also be verified through her use of "meek" or spiritless to describe the dead. Hence, it is not the lacking of discernment between each individual neither their powerlessness in the face of Time but, on the contrary, in the face of Death.

Now regarding what Ana pointed out, if I am not mistaken, about the contradiction that lies between dying and being eternally at ease/comfort under the protection of the "roofs of stone", I believe we can infer through Dickinson's poetry that she believes life and the difficulties that come along with it are of greater value than the "comfort" that results from death. The idea of having submissive, fragile, "meek" members of the Resurrection enlightens the fact that these members praise to be resurrected, otherwise they would not be "meek" neither "members" of an event that consists of rising from death. Hence, we can infer that they wait, and will wait forever, for life to be brought back to them - even if they do reside in "Alabaster" chambers that protect them from... what was it again? Noon and Morning? Who in God's name wouldn't like to be "touched" by Morning and Noon? Very Happy
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Re: second poem

Post  leitz on Thu May 07, 2009 5:48 pm

I agree with Raphael in that the poem describes the continuous cycle of time and the unavoidability of death, however I believe that his description of "ressurecion" within the context of the poem could be better expressed. the use of "ressurection" transmits the feeling that although an individual dies another just like him will be born; we are all simpply "members" of a greater whole, insignificant on our own, and indistiguishable before death. Humans are simply caught in eternal cycle, waxing and waning, where all people are equal before death, one being easily replaced by another in the namless mass we form.
I would have to disagree with Luisa in that the members are waiting for death and the opportunity to be reborn. As Raphael pointed out, the members are described as meek, inferring that they are insignificant before a greater force than themselves. Furthermore, the dead attempt to give significance to themselves by decorating their death with "satin", but this does not chnage that they as an individual, are not differentiated from others in death or life, simply reffered to as "members", menaing they are a part of a greater mass, and not individuals.

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Re: second poem

Post  Bibi on Thu May 07, 2009 6:00 pm

Rapha, much like Lu, I am also going to address one of your comments regarding this Emily Dickinson poem, -- not that I don't agree with your theory to an extent, but there is one interpretation about the "members of the Resurrection" that hasn't been raised. Firstly, it does make sense that to reveal the fact that they are associates of a restoration / rebirth group would mean that the author is again stressing emphasis on the idea of "time" and the "cycle of life." Nonetheless, what I "felt" when I first read this line was that Dickinson was rather throwing in some irony to their situation, it's as if she is saying that they are believers to this religious concept (much from the Catholic church, and the whole "there is such place like heaven" principle) that, in a way, has abandoned them. What intrigues me the most is that, though they are lying dead in "Alabaster Chambers," they are still hopeful of a different outcome, of pertaining through eternity in a better place, given that the speaker mentions they are (not were) "members of the Resurrection."

Regardless, the dull and heavy atmosphere the author portrays is what disconcerts me the most, maybe I could just say scares, simply because this approach to death lacks in probably one of the most important attributes I believe someone should have: faith. I think, yes, she is referring to how humanity tends to give value to material possessions that don’t matter after death; it’s the time when equality is absolute and irrefutable. However, it’s the hopelessness that disturbs me the most: they are waiting for what? It seems like there is no God or superior power, there is no paradise or hell for that matter as well as there is no prospect of heaven and all the consoling feelings of comfort / security / reassurance / peace that comes with it. She questions if we should really live off by measures of something that most regard as an uncontestable truth, despite that we will never know (in life) if it is -- should we devote our souls to something that might as well be unreasonable? Do we exist for a purpose or is our living based on trying to find one?
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Re: second poem

Post  rapoch on Thu May 07, 2009 6:19 pm

Just like Camila, I too found intriguing the frequent use of dashes in Emily Dickinson's poem. Even though to some extent I find it completely meaningless and superfluous, I'll try to put some effort into understanding the illogical purpose behind its use.

Adding to Camila's theory, I believe that the dash has various purposes such as that of portraying the passage of time, separating main expressions in order to emphasize their particular significance and, at the same time, as Camila states, connect each idea to the next.

An excellent example of this is the line "Diadems—drop—and Doges—surrender—". Here, one notices the division of the nouns from the verbs, which is an attempt to portraying the opulence and wealth through the first and third expressions, and at the same time connect them to the idea of cessation expressed in the second and four terms. It also represents the passage of time, for it initiates with a word that signifies the period of a prosperous life ("Diadem"), followed by passage of time impersonated through the dash, and then the sudden word "drop" standing there alone and placed abruptly on the line as if to cause shock (idea that can be linked to the unforeseen death). This is also valid for "and Doges—surrender—".

Also, if one analyzes the second line of the poem, it is possible to notice that it is the only line which possess no dash. The reason behind this is that there is no need to connect it to the next line for their relationship seems pretty obvious. Because both lines repeat the word "untouched" and refer to the passage of time, a break caused by a dash would disrupt the clear link between the two.

The last line of the first stanza possesses a dash in the middle because it separates two contrasting ideas, "Rafter of Satin" and "and Roof of Stone!", and at the same time embodies the role of a thread that links these two concepts in order to transmit a message as a single unit of information. The use of exclamation mark at the end of the line and the fact that it its the last line of the stanza makes it unnecessary to have a dash at the end, characteristic only shared with the line that possess no dash at all.
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Re: second poem

Post  Bia on Thu May 07, 2009 7:13 pm

I agree with Ana, that the images of "rafters of satin" and "roofs of stone" can be viewed in different ways. However I think that the "roof of stone" represents the isolation of the dead world from the living one. It seems that the stones prevent anything from going in or from coming out. I disagree that the entire interpretation can be viewed as negative, to me, the satin can also be associated to peace; and the whole image linked to the first lines of the poem, meaning that the ones who die are “safe” and “untouched” in chambers. I also oppose Milla’s point of view that the satin can be linked to wealth because in line nine, the speaker states that when death arrives, the “diadems drop” meaning that when one is dead it does not matter what was their “previous financial condition”.
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Re: second poem

Post  Mai on Thu May 07, 2009 9:20 pm

I agree with Bia when she says that the imagery portrayed by Dickinson isn't entirely negative, yet, I don't think that the "rafters of satin" can be exactly associated with peace, but how the "members" of resurrection are delicate and precious, and because of that, have to be stored in a safe place.
Honestly, I don't know why Dickinson uses so many dashes, it's even tiring to see so many pauses, they don't seem to have a meaning behind them. Still, the fact that she ends the poem with another dash, instead of a period, indicates that the poem is not yet finished (?), and that there is more to it than what is written in the poem itself. I don't know, I might be wrong...
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second poem

Post  Camila on Fri May 08, 2009 8:12 am

The passage that Ana pointed out is very interesting, and I agree with the positive interpretation she provides. However, I did not take into consideration the other interpretation she provides – that the stone roof is trapping the dead. Now, I think that Dickinson has the intention of enticing the reader to analyze the two images. This way, another idea about death is exposed, that it can be either peaceful or restraining, not abandoning the idea that it is eternal and equal for all.

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Re: second poem

Post  Milla on Fri May 08, 2009 10:48 am

Ana, maybe I did overanalyze the poem in the aspect you talk about, but I think it's important to mention the detail about the wealth and power found in the poem.

Regardless, even though I didn't fully understand the meaning of "ressurection" in the poem, I did like Leitz's interpretation. The world IS part of a cycle of death and birth, and this continuity can be related to the invetability and incapability to control death. And it is not under human power to end this cycle.
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Re: second poem

Post  Oscar on Fri May 08, 2009 12:18 pm

I agree with Leitz about the way Emily Dickinson defines the chambers as stone I order to emphasize the lifelessness of the place. The power Death has over the “members” (I agree with Bibi that it almost seems as if those members were part of a religious group, devoting their souls to an unreachable cause) cannot be underestimated, as Leitz pointed out, references of death’s power appear throughout the poem, such as the “meek” personality of the members, and the gap between the passage of time in and outside the chambers.

I don’t agree with Maiane about the hyphens’ significance in the poem. If the rhythm of the poem would not have been cadenced by hyphens, the feeling of angst provoked by the succession of gloomy images would have been less impacting. To that extent I agree with Raphael C. about the way hyphens shows the passage of Time between the verses, emphasizing the contrast between two successive terms such as “Diadem” and “drop”, quickening the action.

Ms B, the clock of the forum has a problem (that I'll quickly fix), I sent this post at 14:17.
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