Death is used in Emily Dickinson’s novel I felt a Funeral in My Brain and Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s novel Wild Dreams of a New Beginning to make a significant point about civilization and the human experience. Moreover, both works cite death symbolically in most instances throughout the stories.
The poem Wild Dreams of a New Beginning is a fictional depiction of the contemporary, industrialized, and urbanized world. Notably, the poem gives the reader an impression that a massive wave destroys the world entirely, with everything in it as it sweeps across Europe and the whole of North America. Indeed, the poem paints a picture of death and the end of the world and poses whether humankind will rise again and try to recreate industrialization and urbanization as once was. The poem presents relatable suspense that each human being has in their lifetime with an irregular rhyme scheme. The worry of what happens at the end of life and whether there is a beginning out of the Ashes of death.
The two works are relatable since they relate a finality of life despite the relentless struggle of human beings to make life habitable through profuse hard work (Cenita et al.,2020). In the novel Wild Dreams of a New Beginning, Lawrence starts the poem by recounting a myriad of events that happen simultaneously throughout the planet, an aspect that shows his prowess in the picturesque poem. The wave event represents the finality of life and the despair of death, notwithstanding the milestones witnessed by man over the years. In the poem’s first line, Lawrence remarks, “There’s a breathless hush on the freeway tonight.” Hyperbolically, while reading his article, I found no time to catch some breather since I was eager to know what would happen if the often-crowded freeways were left desolate. Moreover, the poem helps the audience develop a continued perception through the chronological imagery as it uses line breaks instead of formal punctuation to deliver on its suspenseful theme.
It is particularly simpler to visualize large, broad expanses of corporate buildings and infrastructure deserted, not with the occasional absence of people since they are indoors, but a breathless, cemetery-like silence. Ferlinghetti digresses on to tell how lifeless the restaurants are and makes another imagery remark ‘into dreams,’ “beyond the ledges of concrete.” Unlike in normal times, the restaurants named in Ferlinghetti’s poem have no couples dining, smiling, and talking under candlelight (Cenita et al.,2020). However, like any other hopeless tale, the poem gives an impression that the encounter is temporary since Ferlinghetti characterizes the lovers as composed of candlelight rather than being illuminated by the candles. However, the poem gave me the impression that the couple will change to something lively, most probably, like candles extinguished from the deadly fire.
Like the Wild Dreams of a New Beginning by Ferlinghetti, Emily’s text, I felt a Funeral in My Brain, employs the metaphor of a funeral to represent the writer’s feeling that she is fading away. Most importantly, She implies that the subconscious’ irrationality is causing her goal to be perplexed. In this narrative, the funeral is utilized to describe death, symbolizing the conclusion of a long trip, and convey the solemn atmosphere and anticipation that comes with death. The mourners at the funeral represent the enigmatic forces that govern death and its consequences. As seen by the passion expressed at the burial, the funeral signifies a level of superiority not seen in any other rite of passage ritual. “I felt a funeral in my brain, and mourners, to and fro, kept treading- treading- till it seemed That sense was breaking through.” (Emily, Paragraph 1)
Emily uses a funeral as a metaphor to explain the subject of death, which she and the other fictitious characters in her writing are always thinking about. The numerous transactions of each individual at the funeral show the terrible nature of death and the various implications it leaves for future generations (Landauer et al.,2015). Similarly, Ferlinghetti depicts historic events of finality taking place in his brain, giving them a twist of how humanity reclaims their places, despite the massive destruction and loss of life seen during the worldwide calamity. He quotes, “And Indians reclaim their canoes.” (Wild Dreams of a New Beginning, last line). The scenic conclusion in Ferlinghetti’s poem can be interpreted in two ways: either life will resume in seeming harmony with nature, or humanity will be forced to restart civilization. Comparatively, the madness and despair seen in Emily’s novel give no finality after the funeral unfolds. The poem begins deep within the speaker’s psyche and progressively examines cosmic riddles whose only solution is silence. In conclusion, both works cite the profound influence that death has on humanity and civilization and help the reader comprehend the implication intuitively through the use of different stylistic devices such as hyperbolics, personification, direct address, and monologue.
Cenita, Lola, and Ely Nurmaily. “METAPHORICAL EXPRESSIONS IN EMILY DICKINSON’S POEMS.” Linguistics and Literature Journal 1.2 (2020): 46-54.
Landauer, Susan, and Carl Landauer. “Open eye, open palette: the art of Lawrence Ferlinghetti.” Confrontation 117 (2015): 93-110.