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Comparison of Two Poems by Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost

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Poetry is a magical thing, it can convey the emotions, perspectives, and attitudes toward the poet. The content, meaning, some techniques and poetic elements that using in poets are worth to analyze. I compare and contrast Robert Frost’s “Stopping by woods on a snowy evening” with Emily Dickinson’s “My life stood a loaded gun”. They have related but different themes, both use metaphor but distinct contents, and they have diverse rhythms.

The two poems are all about death, Robert Frost and Emily Dickson successfully use their poems to convey their ideas. However, their themes are different. The poem “stopping by woods on a snowy evening” focus on a retrospect of memory, and it infers to someone who is passing away or saying a final goodbye. However, Frost illustrates that people need to keep moving in their future life, not stopped by beautiful views or some obstacles. In the first stanza, by presenting “woods” and “house” in an unfamiliar village, the author shows a mysterious scenery, suggesting that the owner of the woods lives elsewhere. The second stanza concentrates on the horse’s reaction that it is confused to stop in wood in a dark evening. The third stanza takes a creature, horse, which represent noble grace, sacrifice, and intuition, to focus the rider’s mind on reality. The horse is shaking the bell, which means uncertainty towards the writer. And in the last stanza the writer repeats “And miles to go before I sleep” and we can see that the writer, the owner of the horse, the would-be suicide, is already to his ongoing life, although the “woods are lovely, dark and deep”. In contrast, the poem “My life stood a loaded gun”, demonstrates a totally different view. It seems that the surface meaning is about a personified gun, but the deeper meaning is not that superficial. In this poem, the female “I” has power and ability to be independent, because when night comes, “I guard my master’s head”, “I” no longer need the protection of the male. On a contrary, “I” can completely rely on the gun. Now, the “gun” is “I” and the internal of author protect the external of her. The deeper theme of this poem is revealed: Women can give up their dependence on men and declare their physical and mental independence, so as to achieve self-identity.

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Moreover, the rhymes in these 2 poems are different but related. In the “Stopping by woods on a snowy evening”, the rhyme scheme is AABA BBCB CCDC DDDD. The flowing lines suggest a continuation of life, a smooth and familiar tone. Furthermore, the poem is cadent rhythmed since the position of rhyme words is regular, which is better for audiences to remember. For instance, in the third stanza, Frost uses a pattern AABA to employ rhyme: “shape, mistake, sweep and flake” create an amazing and vividly view and rhyme. On a contrary, in Emily Dickinson’s “My life stood a loaded gun”, the rhyme is not that obvious, but there are still some regular pattern in each stanza’s second and fourth lines: “perfect” rhyme in stanzas 1 and 6, “slant” rhyme in stanzas 3, 4 and 5.

Furthermore, the poetic element used in both poems is a metaphor, but they have diverse meaning. In Emily Dickinson’s “my life had stood—a Loaded Gun—”, gun believes it has the life as human beings, which is a metaphor, leading to a second meaning and message: a woman and her words have great power. Throughout her work, one can see that Dickinson does not try to evade from subjects like a gun, death, and man, which could be considered controversial of the time for women to describe. However, in her poems, she tries to show her opposite and aggressive view instead of hiding her dislike of the phenomenon that women usually depends on man and others to live. On the other hand, Frost uses “woods” to compare to good events or obstacles happen in life. It helps to illustrate the authors’ perspective of life vividly and readers can easily realize that the author’s understanding of life is not just enjoyable and entertainable. We still need fails and frustrations to improve our abilities and have a more valuable life. Also, Frost compares the whole journey to live. In our life, we will always encounter attractive scenery or face some setbacks in our life, and we should not forget to complete our journey.

In conclusion, Robert Frost’s “Stopping by woods on a snowy evening” and Emily Dickinson’s “My life stood a loaded gun” have related but different themes, both use metaphor but distinct contents, and they have diverse rhythms. Although they have some different, both of them convey the poem successfully and vividly to readers. Now it is our turn to analyze and find the hiding meanings or moral lessons of them.

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